Top 5 Holiday Dangers to Pets

Top 5 Holiday Dangers to Pets

Preventative Measures Can Save Pets

Take preventive measures to protect your pets this holiday season. Being aware of these top five dangers could save you a trip to the veterinary emergency room.

No. 1  Holiday Tinsel and Ornaments

Tinsel, while not toxic, is very attractive to pets, particularly cats. The shiny, dangling decoration reflects light and can move in the slightest draft — appearing to come alive to watchful critters.

The problem with tinsel is that once it’s consumed, it can cause serious injury to your pet. If not caught in time, this foreign body ingestion could actually be fatal as it twists and bunches inside your pet’s intestines. Immediate veterinary care is required. In addition, bright and colorful tree ornaments can attract your pet’s curiosity. Place glass, aluminum and paper ornaments higher up on the tree. Pets can chew and swallow these fragile objects and not only can broken pieces form sharp edges that may lacerate your pet’s mouth, throat and intestines, they could also create a choking hazard.

No. 2  Holiday Lighting and Candles

Got a pet that likes to chew? Twinkling, shiny and dangling holiday lights — such as the icicle, netting, garland, curtain, rope and candle varietal — may be another source of danger to your curious pets.

Electrical shock may occur when a pet chomps down on an electrical cord, causing tongue lacerations and possible death. Check your holiday lights for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution. If you have candles on display, place them in a hard-to-reach spot so that your pets can not access them. Not only can pets seriously burn themselves, but knocking over candles creates a fire hazard and may leave a trail of hot wax that will easily burn the pads of paws and more.

“Often, during the holidays, families will experience some added chaos and a unique set of dangers for their pets. With all the hubbub, it can be easy for pets to access candy, ribbon and other potentially harmful items or for a pet to run outside unnoticed when guests arrive. We want the holiday season to be a festive and safe time for every member of your family. A little extra caution can go a long way in keeping your furry friends safe.” -Dr. Brian Benjamin, Ohio Drive Animal Hospital

“Often, during the holidays, families will experience some added chaos and a unique set of dangers for their pets. With all the hubbub, it can be easy for pets to access candy, ribbon and other potentially harmful items or for a pet to run outside unnoticed when guests arrive. We want the holiday season to be a festive and safe time for every member of your family. A little extra caution can go a long way in keeping your furry friends safe.”
-Dr. Brian Benjamin, Ohio Drive Animal Hospital

No. 3  Gift Wrap Ribbon

You may be tempted to fashion your pet with a decorative ribbon “collar” but beware that this could become a choking hazard.

Also, it’s best to quickly discard ribbons and bows wrapped around holiday gifts so that your curious companions won’t be enticed to chew or swallow them. Ingested ribbon can cause a choking hazard and ultimately twist throughout the intestines, leading to emergency surgery and even death.

No. 4  Food Hazards

Festive events often mean edible treats — and lots of them. Unfortunately, some of the most popular holiday goodies, such as chocolate and nuts, can be extremely toxic or fatal to pets.

Chocolate contain various levels of fat, caffeine and the chemical substances, methylxanthines, which stimulate the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Humans metabolize the chemicals relatively quickly; animals process them more slowly, so the effects are more pronounced. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, pets might experience vomiting, diarrhea, muscle spasms, excessive panting, hyperactive behavior, seizures and dehydration, all of which can cause death.

Abundant in many cookies and candies, certain nuts should not be given to pets. Almonds, walnuts, Macadamia nuts and pistachios can cause an upset stomach, an obstruction of your dog’s throat and/or intestinal tract, seizures or neurological symptoms. Lethargy, vomiting and loss of muscle control are among the effects of nut ingestion. Peanuts, roasted cashews (not raw), and hazelnuts are not toxic to pets but should only be allowed in moderation.

Fat trimmings and bones are dangerous for dogs. Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, may cause pancreatitis. And, although it seems natural to give a dog a bone, a dog can choke on it; bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog’s digestive system.

No. 5   Toxic Holiday Plants

They may be pretty, but some holiday plants are poisonous—even deadly. As little as a single leaf from any lily variety is lethal to cats. Others to avoid:

Christmas tree pine needles can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling and posterior weakness. Holly, commonly found during the Christmas season, can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea and depression. Mistletoe, another Christmas plant, can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behavior, hallucinations and death when ingested.

Poinsettias can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometimes vomiting.

Taking precautions with pets during these festive times can help ensure that you and your family will enjoy a happy — and healthy — holiday season!

Content courtesy of: Veterinary Pet Insurance, A Nationwide Company

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