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For Informed Dog Owners

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Helpful Holiday Hints

Hello all...Dr. Mandi here again with some hints to make Fido's holiday season a safe and happy one.

There are many holiday traditions that we enjoy with our families and our pets during this festive season. However, there also things that can be harmful to our furry friends this time of year.

Christmas Plants/Flowers - Poinsettias and Amaryllis are a beautiful touch to holiday home decor and Mistletoe is sure to make us cuddle up to those we love. But all of them are considered toxic to dogs and cats. Even in small amounts they can be very harmful. So keep these plants/flowers up high or in places where animals cannot get to them.

Treats/Holiday Cooking - Many of the sweet treats we enjoy for the holidays can cause our pets to become ill. Just a simple change in diet can cause vomiting, diarrhea and life threatening illnesses like pancreatitis. Candy, cookies, cakes, peppermints and especially chocolate can cause everything from mild intestinal upset to death. Bones from meat and poultry, cooked or raw, can be very harmful to pets. They can cause choking, intestinal obstruction and intestinal punctures all of which can lead to death. They can also lead to broken teeth and mouth infections. If you ever have any questions as to whether or not a treat is safe for your pet, never hesitate to call your veterinarian and ask.

Snow Globes - This is a holiday hazard that I have just found out about myself!! These novelties have been a holiday staple for years and years, so it may be surprising to know that they can be deadly to our pets. Many snow globes contain ANTIFREEZE which is extremely toxic to dogs and cats and causes kidney failure and frequently is fatal. Antifreeze tastes sweet and can be appealing to our furry friends. So keep the snow globes where animals cannot reach them and if ever there is an antifreeze spill, make sure to clean it up thoroughly and keep furry friends out of the area until the job is done. If there is any question whether or not your pet has ingested antifreeze, err on the side of caution and take him/her to your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.

Stress - The holidays are not only a stressful time for us humans, but for our pets as well. The holiday hustle and bustle, and visits from family and friends can cause dogs and cats to become nervous and excitable. Not to mention that they can sense OUR stress levels rising! To help pets cope, try to set aside plenty time to spend with them. Walk or exercise them prior to arrival of guests to relieve stress and expend some excess energy. It is a good idea not to allow the family dog to greet unfamiliar guests. In general, commotion and unusual circumstances can be scary and stressful to our pets. Give pets a break in a quiet room with things that are familiar to them like their favorite toys, bed or blankie and allow them to join the festivities after things have calmed down a bit. Never allow children to bother pets when they are eating. Also, dogs pant and, therefore, drink more when their stress level increases, so make sure they have of water available at all times.

Cold Weather - While it may seem convenient to put pets outside when company arrives, remember that cold temperatures, snow and ice can be very dangerous. Many animals suffer from frostbite every year, even if left out for what may seem like a short period of time. Also, remember when treating your front walk with salt or de-icing substances to make sure they are pet friendly. Many can be very irritating to our furry friends sensitive paws and toxic if ingested.

Holiday Decorations - Although Christmas trees are a wonderful tradition, they can lead to problems for curious pets. There are some simple things that we can do to prevent holiday disasters. To prevent a tree from tipping over, anchor it to the ceiling or wall. Hang non-breakable ornaments near the bottom of the tree. Tinsel is beautiful but can be deadly if ingested by pets. It can cause intestinal obstruction that can require emergency surgery and lead to death. Don's allow pets to drink Christmas tree water as it can contain chemicals that help the tree to last longer and can cause serious intestinal upset to pets. Even pine needles that fall from the tree can be harmful. They can puncture holes in the stomach and intestines if ingested, so make sure they are swept or vacuumed up regularly. Lastly, candles can give the holidays a wonderful warm glow, but are very easily tipped over by a curious pet. Keep candles out of reach to prevent pets from getting burned or causing a fire.

Toys/Gifts - Children's toys can be a hazard to pets if chewed or swallowed. It is a good practice all year long to keep small toys and pieces out of reach from pets to prevent a trip to the veterinary emergency room. Help your pet stay occupied and out of the holiday decorations by giving them their own gifts. Make sure to consult your veterinarian on which toys are appropriate for your pet ahead of time.

I hope these tips will help everyone to have a wonderful and safe season.


1 comment:

Brian Cluxton said...

Thanks, Dr. M. Great advice!

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