The emergency veterinarians at the Center for Animal Referral & Emergency Services (CARES) in Langhorne have seen it all during the holiday season, from cats with tongue lacerations, to dogs who eat holiday bows with metal wires. This time of year can provide a lot of excitement for humans, but can be quite troublesome for pets. Here are their three ways to keep your pets safe through 2013.
1. Keep all chocolate and raisins out of reach
Many households have extra chocolate on hand right now and it just keeps on coming through the holiday season. Dogs chocolate toxicity have symptoms of excitement, tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, vomiting, diarrhea and more. Sometimes their heart rate skyrockets! Dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate. A 35-pound dog would be expected to fall ill following ingestion of 34 oz. of milk chocolate, but could get ill on as little as 3.8 oz. of dark/unsweetened chocolate. That's just one small candy bar. Another dangerous treat is raisins, which can cause kidney failure in dogs. For some dogs, eating just a very small amount of raisins can cause life threatening disease.
2. Fatty foods can pose a health risk
Most emergencies this time of year come from the food that pets eat. When you sit down to that big turkey or ham dinner this season, consider what you are giving your pet. Turkey scraps and other holiday meals can be very fatty or greasy, which can lead to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). In mild cases of pancreatitis, you may notice that your pet won't eat or they may vomit. Severe cases of pancreatitis can be fatal.
Bones from the family meal are also not a good idea. These bones can not only irritate the stomach, but they can get stuck in the mouth or throat, causing a pet to salivate excessively and drool. Even worse, if a bone gets lodged internally, it could require surgical removal. Be sure to hide the trash can from your pet on holidays, so they are not digging bones or other fatty foods out of the trash.
If you want to give your pet a special treat during holiday celebrations, ask your family veterinarian if a carrot or apple would be a good choice for your pet. Your pet will thank you for the special attention and you will be less likely to have a hospital visit.
3. Watch out for the holiday decor and presents
Cat owners should consider an alternative to buying tinsel for the holiday tree. Cats are attracted to the shiny strands of tinsel and they could easily swallow it. Tinsel can cause serious intestinal problems that often require costly surgery and can be fatal.
If you are a cat owner and want to brighten your home with flowers, avoid True Lilies (Lilium). These flowers, when ingested, cause kidney failure in cats. Keep this in mind also if you are bringing a fresh bouquet to a friend or family member's home.
A sweet-smelling home is always a nice way to welcome visitors during the holidays, but potpourri should be kept out of reach of pets. Potpourri can cause gastrointestinal problems, including vomiting and diarrhea, if eaten.
Finally, as you unwrap your holiday gifts, be sure to watch out for ribbons, bows and small toys, all of which can be ingested by your pet. Keep an empty trash bag nearby so you can dispose of wrapping and ribbons immediately.