Holiday Safety Tips for Pet Owners
By Dr. Bjorn Lee
PenBay Veterinary Associates
Be careful how you deck your halls! The holiday season is generally a time of family togetherness in which even our pets participate. Thoughts are generally far from those of injury; however, please be aware of some important seasonal risks to ensure a happy holiday season.
RIBBONS & TINSEL
These are of special interest to playful cats and kittens that see these materials as toys (or prey) to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing pose no health threats, chewing and swallowing do, as these strings or “linear foreign bodies” can catch in the GI tract, leading to bunching of intestine as the body tries in vain to move the string or ribbon through. This is a life-threatening condition usually requiring surgery for correction. Please supervise animals that play with string closely.
ELECTRIC LIGHT CORDS
These are also tempting to cats who like to play with string as well as to puppies that are teething and interested in chewing. If a pet bites through an electrical cord, it could result in a severe burn to the tongue and can cause the pet’s lung to fill with fluid, causing respiratory distress. This is also an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.
Many people do not realize that chocolate can be a poison. Unsweetened baking chocolate carries a much higher dose of the toxin “theobromine” than milk chocolate, but even normal milk chocolate can be dangerous; a small dog sharing candy can wind up in big trouble. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperexcitability, nervousness, vomiting, diarrhea, and death. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, you can give the dog hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (note: best if done outside!). It is always best to call your vet before inducing vomiting.
Consuming this festive-looking plant can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of the dog or cat that chews on or eats it. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia is not specifically toxic.
The fact that there are several types of mistletoe makes it difficult to predict the clinical signs of poisoning. Some mistletoes produce only stomach upset while others may lead to liver failure or seizuring. Consider mistletoe to be a hazardous substance and keep it inaccessible to pets and children.
Keep pets out of the kitchen during the hustle and bustle of the season. The last thing you want is for someone you love to get underfoot and get burned from spillage.
We all like to include our pets in Holiday meals along with the rest of the family, but try to keep in mind that sudden rich diet changes are likely to upset a pet’s stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon. If leftovers are of an especially fatty nature, the pancreas may become inflamed and overloaded. This condition is serious and may require hospitalization.
PenBay Veterinary Associates is a proud member of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). For more information please visit www.penbayvets.com or call 594-8300.
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