As we count down to the end of the year we head into the holiday season, which includes lots of food, family, friends, flowers, gifts and all sorts of other things our four-footed friends can get into.
By knowing the hazards, you can plan appropriately and keep your entire family, including your pets, happy and safe this holiday season. Things that come into mind from first-hand experience are food, decorations, holiday plants, and trash. Let’s start with food.
Many years ago, on Christmas Eve, late at night when Santa should have been putting toys together, we had an emergency;
a nine-week old cocker spaniel puppy who had eaten a pound of dark fudge he found under the Christmas tree. We spent hours monitoring and treating his heart arrhythmias. I still remember hearing the church bells at midnight. So, no chocolate...type of chocolate, size of the pet, and amount eaten are all factors, but to be safe just avoid letting your pet get into it.
Turkey, bones, turkey skin and pan drippings all add up to a potential gastrointestinal upset. These goodies can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, bone splinters in the intestines or even pancreatitis. So my advice is you enjoy the turkey and trimmings and give your pet a treat designed specifically for them.
Next up, decorations and holiday plants. Two cases come to mind, one involving a dog and decorations; the other, two cats and seasonal plants. About three weeks before Christmas a little Shihtzu came in to be groomed. No problem, right? Well as I proceeded to groom him he began vomiting. After the third cleanup I called his owner and asked if he could have gotten into anything. The answer was no, so I said OK and proceeded with the grooming...the dog then began vomiting blood.
I immediately called the owner and recommended an exam and workup by the doctor. X-rays found circular foreign bodies identified in the stomach. Exploratory surgery was performed and we removed about 30 cents in change from the stomach but the real problem causing the acute distress was wads of tinsel extending down into the intestines that did not show up on x-rays because it was made of plastic! So, no tinsel!
The case of two cats. Cat number one came in a few weeks before Christmas suffering from weight loss, lethargy, not eating and frequent urination. This cat was fairly young and had always been robust. Labwork indicated he was in acute kidney failure. We immediately consulted with the family, could he possibly have gotten into anything? The answer was no, and he was strictly an inside cat. We asked them to check the house...they did not find anything suspicious. Unfortunately, he passed away within several days.
A week later his housemate came in with identical symptoms and unfortunately suffered the same fate. Again, we quizzed the owners and as part of the search we gave them a list of plants and holiday plants that could cause the symptoms. Bingo...they went home and found a seasonal plant that they believe both cats had chewed and eaten. So just keep in mind that the beautiful mistletoe or holly can be toxic to your pet.
Lastly, holiday cleanup. The holidays tend to generate a lot of trash, some of it very appealing to our pets. Get the trash bagged, out of the house, and into a bin that is not accessible to your pets. The trash can be a bonanza of all the things we do not want them to get into!
Have a happy, healthy, holiday season! For more extensive holiday safety tips google: Holiday Pet Safety-American Veterinary Medical Association
Robyn King is our Hopsital Manager here at Pet Street Station Animal Hospital. She enjoys the diversity of her job and being able to problem solve. Check out Robyn's full bio here!