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December is Wellness testing and Christmas Hazards Month!
With the holiday cheer, comes the holiday hazards for your pets. Let’s take a quick look at some of the major risks
String, Tinsel, Ribbon and long thin things
Your pets, especially your cats, have an amazing affinity for strings, tinsel, ribbon and other long thin items. Although they add to the festive cheer, they are a potentially lethal hazard. Likely the worst problem is when one end gets stuck in the mouth and the other end is swallowed. The resulting problem can tear apart the digestive tract and can usually only be repaired by prompt surgery. Alternately, the whole thing gets into the stomach where it can ball up and cause an obstruction. Again surgery is usually required to remove the blockage
I remember several times when I was young, our cat would climb the tree and chew on the lights. How she did not get electrocuted I cannot imagine. The plastic coatings on wires are particularly attractive to cats. Not only can your pet get a shock from damaged wires, but house fires can start. If your pet has been electrocuted, they may show the following signs: burns, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, loss of consciousness; and ultimately electrocution can cause death.
Chocolate has the potential to be very toxic to our pets. The risk of serious problems increases with the amount of chocolate consumed, the percentage of cocoa (dark and baking chocolates are worse than milk chocolate, and white chocolate has minimal problems) and the size of your pet. Your veterinarian can estimate the risk using a special calculator and will likely induce vomiting if your pet is seen in the first few hours after the accidental ingestion. Signs can include vomiting, excessive drinking, diarrhea, weakness, abnormal heart rhythm and death is possible, among others.
Fido loves the toilet, until the tree comes out! Some people add preservatives to the tree water, or use other liquids in decorations and holiday scents. Please keep these products away from your pets.
Some natural decorations can be poisonous. Poinsettias contain a milky sap that can irritate the mouth but if signs develop they are usually mild and will likely resolve with minimal treatment. However, Mistletoe can be very toxic to animals and you should seek veterinary consultation immediately if your pet has potentially ingested any part of the plant. Mistletoe can cause vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, shock and even death. Other plants can be a problem although signs of poisonings are generally mild, and include vomiting, belly pain, and diarrhea. Of course so can eating all of grandma’s fruitcake! Bad dog!
There are many holiday hazards. Please prevent exposure as much as is reasonable, and seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect a problem. Prompt treatment leads to better outcomes.
Also remember that pets given as gifts are done with a lifelong commitment. Shelters get too many unwanted animals in the New Year due to good intentions gone bad.
From all your friends at Complete Care Hospital for Pets, have a very happy and safe holiday!