It’s that special time of the year and of course you want to include your furry pets in the family fun; but please be mindful of special activities and human traditions that are dangerous to our pets.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
1. Please make sure your tree is pet friendly. Keep it secure so that it can’t fall over. If you like a real Christmas tree, be sure your pets are not allowed to drink the tree water as this may cause stomach/bowel upset.
2. Tinsel can be deadly. This shiny, innocent looking decoration is a kitty magnet; they love to play with and chew this tantalizing and sparkly toy. Unfortunately, when tinsel is ingested (eaten) it can cause a blockage in the stomach and intestines that can be lethal without surgery.
No Feast for the Beasts
All those holiday family dinners, cookies, candies and treats help make this a great time of year, but our pets can become extremely ill when eating people food. Limit their diet to their normal food and pet specific treats. Especially dangerous is the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is commonly found in candy and gum.
All the pretty lights require wires. Wires carry electricity. Electricity kills! Sure, it was somewhat comical when the cat in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation bit into the electric cord, but in the real world electrocution is no laughing matter. Make sure to keep pets away from all electric appliances, Christmas lights, etc.
For many, sharing the spirit of the holidays includes getting together with friends and family and having cocktails or wine. Keep a very close eye on your curious cats and daring dogs. Those sweet cocktails (especially those with dairy products) are very attractive to our pets. We see a significant increase in tipsy patients during this time of year.
Poisonous Plants: Mistletoe, Holly and Poinsettias
All of these are Mother Nature’s natural decorations for this special time of year. However, all three pose risks to our pets and can cause gastrointestinal upset or worse. Cardiac (heart) and renal (kidney) injury is also possible.
For our anxious pets, all the increased activity, noises and visitors (i.e. stranger danger) can make for an absolute nightmarish experience. If you have a stressed-out pet, please contact your family veterinarian to discuss ways to make this time of year fear free. Start by making a quiet zone in your house for the pets, filled with security toys/blankets. Don’t let lesser known family members or strangers mingle with your pets.
Finally, while puppies and kitties do make cute presents….THEY ARE GOING TO GROW UP! Just like raising children, there will be challenging times that you must be ready for; potty-training, chewing up shoes, barking, and clawing furniture are just a few. Thousands of Christmas pets end up homeless or in shelters due to our busy and chaotic lifestyles. Take time before making a big decision like bringing a new pet into your house. Always remember there are beautiful, adoptable pets in shelters and rescue groups that would love a home this season. Adopt, don’t buy!
Wishing all of you a Blessed Christmas Season!
The Doctors and Staff of the Animal Emergency Center