It’s getting to be that time of year again, as Halloween ends and we are looking forward to Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season. People are pulling out their winter clothing and holiday decorations. When people with pets put up their Christmas decorations, they may think of ways to secure their tree so Fido or Fifi can’t knock it down when they try to climb it or reach for that shiny ornament. However, there are many other holiday hazards they should think of and work to prevent first.
It’s fun to decorate your trees with shiny ornaments, tinsel and lights. Sometimes its even fun to see your pets reactions to those decorations after you put them up. However, many veterinarians associate this time with an increase in exploratory and foreign body surgeries. Why? Because dogs choose to eat a christmas bulb, or cats choose to eat tinsel. I know of stories (since I am a veterinary technician) of cats coming in and the owners are complaining about the tinsel stuck between their teeth. What they don’t realize is when the veterinarian goes to take the cat’s temperature and finds that the tinsel has been strung through the cat’s intestines and is hanging out of their rear end. This is a very dangerous situation for kitty. Some people might think to just pull on the string, but DON’T DO THIS!!! String (or tinsel) foreign bodies when pulled can cause the intestines to fold over themselves in an accordion type style and cause an intestinal blockage that can lead to death of the intestines and the kitty as well. They almost always end up as an expensive surgery or euthanasia of a beloved pet. Dogs like to knock the “ball” (christmas bulb) off the trees and try to chase them or retrieve them and either swallow them (sometimes with the hanging hook attached) or they break in their mouths and cause puncture wounds. (Not real fun to have to retrieve.)
Many kids love waking up on Christmas morning to a stocking full of goodies which often times includes chocolate. The sad thing is once the stockings come off the hangers, many times they are left under the tree and the family dog walks over when everyone is asleep the next night and helps themselves to a chocolatey delight. Bad Owners!! As explained in the Merck Veterinary Manual, chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are toxic in large doses to animals. How large of a dose? That varies based on the size of your pet. Small dogs don’t take too much to have an issue. What happens? Usually within 6-12 hours the dog can start showing signs such as these: increased salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, and cardiac arrhythmias that can lead to death. If your dog hasn’t shown signs, but you find that it has eaten chocolate, you should take it to your nearest veterinarian’s office so they can induce vomiting if your pet has eaten a toxic dose. Dogs already showing signs will be hospitalized and put on intravenous medications and fluids to rehydrate and prevent the toxins from doing serious damage if it hasn’t been done already.
Lights and Candles
Holiday lights and candles make my Christmas every year. However, you have to make sure your pet doesn’t get burned by a flickering flame that ignites their curiosity in more ways than one. Also, holiday lighting can be a hazard if your pet tries to chew on them and gets electrocuted. Be sure to turn off the lights and blow out the candles when you are away from home, or going to sleep, to avoid any of these mishaps as well as to avoid a house fire…an extreme danger to you, your home, and your pet.
Poinsettias are the symbol of Christmas along with the trees, but Poinsettia plants can be hazardous and toxic to your pets. Holly is another danger people need to consider when decorating a house with pets in it. The other two plants you need to consider is Mistletoe, as well as our lovely Christmas trees as pine needles and the other plants listed here can cause symptoms from gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea.
So, when you bring out your holiday decorations and get ready to celebrate Christmas this year, consider your furry friends and take extra precautions to keep them safe so your holiday season doesn’t become more expensive or saddened because of some things that could be avoided. Happy Holidays Everyone!!