By Kelly Jean Eaton
There are many dangers to be expected for the holiday season with pets around including everyday holiday objects, foods, and anxiety related to holiday guests. Being aware of the dangers your pets face can help you better protect your four legged friends. Here are some of the top dangers of the holiday season.
A majority of the time we welcome our friends & family into our home during the holidays. Our guests however are not always as careful as we are about our pets. It is important to educate your guests about keeping an eye on your four-legged friends, especially when entering or exiting the home. National statistics show that only about 10% of cats that are lost get returned to their owners. It is also important to remember that all of the extra activity in your home may become a source of anxiety for animals. If you know you are going to have guests, it’s not a bad idea to temporarily isolate pets from the rest of the house until they can acclimate to the busier surroundings. Some pets get too overwhelmed and simply do best if kenneled or isolated until guests leave.
There are many items of decor that we put out once a year during the holidays such as candles, strings of lights, tinsel, glass or aluminum ornaments, holiday plants and packages. Almost every kind of decoration we use for the holidays is something that looks like a toy to your pets so be sure to put those items out of reach. Placing a small table under the tree to elevate it, moving the ornaments higher up, and putting packages away can help keep your pets out of trouble. Holiday plants such as pine needles, holly, mistletoe and poinsettias can cause irritation and gastrointestinal upset resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Training pets to leave these things alone can be difficult because they are seen for such a limited time each year but products such as Stay Away (a compressed air can with a motion detector, which can be set near the tree) can to deter your pets when you are not around.
The number one food readily available during the holidays is chocolate which contains theobromine that can be deadly, especially in dark & semi-sweet chocolates commonly used in holiday goodies. Another holiday favorite is sharing your feast with your pets. Avoid feeding your pet’s fatty leftovers or any meat that may contain bones. These foods can cause severe issues such as pancreatitis and gastrointestinal upset like vomiting and diarrhea and small bones can splinter and break once digested leading to obstruction of the intestines. Finally, some types of nuts should not be given to pets. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios can cause upset stomach and possible obstruction in your pet’s GI system. Macadamia nuts are fatty and can cause pancreatitis, GI upset, and neurological issues.
Indications that your pet may have ingested any of these are lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea or other abnormal behaviors. If your pet ingests any of these or other foreign objects, or has eaten something they shouldn’t, contact FPVC or your nearest Emergency Clinic for medical information.