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Holiday Hazards

Happy holidays from the vets and staff at My Zoo Animal Hospital! With the holidays rapidly approaching, there are few facts pet owners should know to protect their pets from holiday hazards. What hazards do the holidays present to animals? Here are few with tips to keep your pets safe this season.

  • Chocolate. Be sure to store any candy where your pet, especially dogs, can’t reach it. Chocolate is toxic to animals.
  • Poinsettias, mistletoe, lilies, and holly. All of these plants are toxic to animals. All of these plants can cause gastrointestinal upset. Mistletoe can cause damage to the heart. Some lilies (such as Tiger, Easter, and Star Gazer) can hurt the kidneys of cats in particular. It’s best to keep these out of your pet’s reach.
  • Holiday decorations. Christmas lights can be dangerous if your pet chews on the cords. Glass ornaments can cut the GI system, and tinsel can get stuck. If your pet has a tendency to chew on ornaments, move the ornaments out of your pet’s reach.
  • Christmas Trees. If you plan to put a Christmas tree in your house, be sure that it is properly secured so it doesn’t fall and injure your pet (or children). If you have a live tree, be careful your pet is not tempted to drink the water. Some live trees have preservatives or other additives that can be toxic if ingested. The pine needles can cause an upset stomach if eaten.
  • Gifts. Be sure not to place any food items under the tree as your pet (especially dogs) can sniff them out. Ribbon if eaten can get caught in the GI tract and cause serious damage if not removed surgically. As a child, Dr. Katie recalls an instance when the family beagle, Mr. Bailey, found a box of cookie mix wrapped as a gift under the tree. He ate the cookie mix, opened all the other presents looking for more food, and had diarrhea all over the house. Dr. Katie’s mother was less than pleased. Luckily for Mr. Bailey, he recovered and gifts were placed in a safer location in subsequent years.
  • Batteries. During the holidays, people tend to use more batteries for cameras and battery operated toys. If ingested, batteries can cause severe ulceration of the gastrointestinal tract. Be sure to dispose of used batteries properly, and store new batteries in a safe location.
  • Open doors. With company coming to visit more in the holidays, there is an increased risk of your pet running out the door. We recommend keeping the id tags up-to-date so people know how to get your pet back home. Microchipping is a very good way to identify your pet. Unlike a collar with tags, a microchip cannot be lost, and most veterinary clinics and shelters have microchip readers. If you would like for us to implant a microchip in your pet, give us a call! It’s a quick and easy procedure that can be performed within 15 minutes.
  • Holiday food. With so many delicious meals and foods, you may be tempted to feed your pets more table scraps during the holidays. It’s best to refrain from giving table scraps and stick to a species appropriate pet food as new foods can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Do not give your pets any meat with bones that may splinter or get lodged in the GI tract. Fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Nuts can also be toxic (Macadamia nuts are particularly bad).
  • Candles. Candles can be appealing for pets to play with and possibly knock over and start a fire. Be sure to keep these out of reach!
  • Guests. Many pets can be stressed by having a lot of guests over. Always monitor your pet’s behavior when guests, especially children, are visiting. Provide a safe place, like a crate or kennel, where your pet can retreat from guests.

We hope you have a happy and safe holiday season this year! Happy holidays!

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