Winter Pet Safety

santa catHow to Keep Your Pet Safe During the Holidays

The onset of the fall and winter seasons brings with it the fun and excitement of many upcoming holidays. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years can be extremely enjoyable times for both you and your pets. A piece of turkey from the Thanksgiving table, or a new bone under the Christmas tree may be special treats that make your pet enjoy the holiday season almost as much as you.  It is important to remember, however, that these holiday celebrations can also pose a potential risk to your pets that may be easy to overlook. Each holiday presents a specific set of hazards that are important to consider in order to keep your pet safe and healthy.

Cold Weather Catastrophes:

-Antifreeze: Antifreeze leaks are much more common during the colder months. This substance is extremely lethal when ingested and just a small amount can cause irreversible kidney damage and death.

-Rodenticides: Rat or mouse poisons are more common during the colder weather when rodents tend to seek shelter indoors. Rodent poisons such as d-CON and Talon prevent blood from clotting and usually cause death from blood loss.

-Ice melting products: Ice melt, especially products containing Sodium Chloride can cause drooling, excessive licking, vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation or seizures if ingested in large amounts. It can also cause skin irritation on the paws or in/around the mouth.

-Cold medications: Over the counter cold and flu medications can be extremely toxic to dogs. Many of these medications contain acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil) both of which can cause kidney failure.

-Liquid potpourri: Ingestion of liquid potpourri by cats or dogs can cause skin redness, sensitivity and ulceration of the tongue, mouth, and esophagus. Drooling, vomiting, weakness, difficulty breathing and anorexia can also develop.

Thanksgiving Troubles:

-Table foods: Rich, fatty, or spicy foods can cause gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting and diarrhea, or pancreatitis which can cause abdominal pain, anorexia, depression, dehydration or more severe symptoms.

-Bones: Cooked poultry bones can wreak havoc on the gastrointestinal system if eaten. These bones have a tendency to splinter, which can result in shards of bone penetrating the esophagus, stomach, or intestines.

Christmas Crises:

-Christmas tree: Unless extremely secure it is possible for your pets to knock over the Christmas tree and cause bruising, lacerations or broken bones if it lands on them.

-Christmas tree water: The water that sits under your Christmas tree is often a breeding ground for bacteria and can also contain fertilizers that will cause gastrointestinal upset.

-Tinsel and Ribbons: One of the leading causes of foreign body obstruction in cats is tinsel and ribbons. They often wrap around the base of the tongue and twist around in the intestines. These linear foreign bodies can sometimes perforate through the intestines and often require surgical correction.

-Christmas lights: Cats and dogs who are tempted to bite strands of Christmas lights will often end up with lacerations from the glass bulbs or electrical burns.

-Ornaments: Ornaments that can be knocked off the Christmas tree and broken are often sharp and can cause lacerations on the feet or the mouth and intestines if swallowed.

-Artificial Snow: Inhalation of artificial snow can result in respiratory problems and ingestion can cause gastrointestinal upset.

-Candles: Burns from hot candle wax as well as potential fire hazards make candles a serious hazard to your pets. It is important to remember that cats can often jump onto high surfaces and knock over candles with the swish of a tail.

-Mistletoe: Ingestion can cause cardiovascular problems or gastrointestinal upset.

-Lilies: Acute kidney failure makes the ingestion of any sort of lily extremely dangerous to cats.

-Poinsettas: Ingestion may cause a mild irritation in the mouth or mild gastrointestinal upset.

-Holly: Gastrointestinal upset and lethargy can occur when eaten.

New Years Nuisances:

-Balloons: Ingestion of deflated balloons can often lead to an intestinal obstruction.

-Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages cause depression of the central nervous system which can lead to decreased heart rate and decreased respiration in dogs and cats.

Please remember that your pets can enjoy the holiday season as much as you, but it is important to take a few precautions to keep them safe and happy during your holiday festivities!

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