Seasonal Safety

Title: Seasonal Safety
Source: Pet Connection
Authors:
Address (URL): http://www.VeterinaryPartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=2431 Some people seem to have bad luck over the holidays, and I have traditionally been one of them. I’ve filled the house with smoke from a poorly laid fire in the fireplace just before guests arrived for dinner, and I’ve tripped over a sleeping dog on Christmas morning and ended up in the emergency room (the dog was fine; I went home with a cast).

But that’s nothing compared to the disasters that seem to dog the pets in our family over the years. I’ve spent good parts of many holidays in after-hours veterinary clinics, and a few times those trips were for problems that could have been prevented.

Fortunately, the better part of two decades — and most of my writing career — have passed since my last holiday pet disaster, and I’d like to think it’s because I learned a few things along the way. In the interest of helping your holiday season go easier, I’d like to remind you of what to look out for in the weeks to come.

Every year at this time I offer a list of the most common holiday hazards for pets, including foreign-body ingestion and accidental poisoning. The bad news is that many pets will end up at a veterinarian’s office this holiday season. The good news is that yours won’t be among them if you keep an eye out for these hazards.

The place to start? The Christmas tree. This popular sign of the season is full of hazards for dogs and cats. Tinsel can be an appealing target for play, but if ingested, it can twist up the intestines and may need to be surgically removed. This is a particular danger to cats and kittens, who seem to find tinsel — along with yarn, ribbon and string — especially appealing to eat.

Ornaments, too, are deadly in the mouths — and stomachs — of pets, and even the water at the base of the tree contains secretions that can at the very least cause a stomachache. Light strings are no good for chewing, and the whole tree can come down on the cat climbing in its branches. Some dogs may even be inclined to break the rules of house-training on a freshly cut tree — why else, they reason, would anyone bring a tree into the house?

The best way to keep your pets out of tree trouble is by making the tree off-limits unless you’re there to supervise. Putting the tree in a room with a door you can close is probably the easiest solution.

And how about holiday greenery? Holiday plants such as mistletoe may look intriguing to your pet, but they’re also toxic, as are the bulbs of the amaryllis plant. (Long the poster child for holiday poisoning, the falsely maligned poinsettia can be safely welcomed into the pet lover’s home.) Holiday food can be a problem, too (see sidebar).

The best way to keep your pet safe is to look at everything new that’s in your house for the holidays and figure out the best way to keep it out of the mouths and paws of your pets.

And just in case the worst should happen, find the number now of the nearest veterinary emergency clinic and know how to get there if you have to.

 

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