Holiday Pet Dangers

Planning for the holidays should always include planning for your pet’s safety during the holidays and into the New Year. It is always disappointing to hear of a friend’s pet suffering illness or death during the holiday season. However, it is a story that we hear every season. Frequently, the full story often leads to the probable cause of the problem. These causes can quickly be identified as people, food, plants, medications and holiday clutter. Let us take a closer look at each.

One of the hardest dangers to control during the holidays is guest and visitors, the uninitiated, the non-pet owner. It is particularly tempting for a visitor to give that lovable pet candy, chocolates, nuts and a host of foods not suitable for pets.

How to protect your pet during the holidays? Explain to your guest that many human foods are dangerous to pets. Ask them not to give the pets any human foods.

Another problem is when guests arrive with children. Some pets may not appreciate the increased attention. It would be best to put the pet in another room and use a barrier gate to separate the pet and child. Always, when pets and children are together remove the food bowls to prevent any chance of aggressive behavior by the pet.

When inviting quests that have pets make sure that they plan to board their pet before arriving, avoiding any conflict between the pets. Pets do not always welcome “intruders” in the home. Older pets may not appreciate the lively attention from a younger animal.

The items that top the list are chocolate, cocoa, coffee, tea, caffeine, alcohol, avocado, raw/undercooked meat, eggs, and bones, xylitol (an artificial sweetener used in gum, candy, and toothpaste), onions, garlic, chives, milk and salt. While all of these are not deadly, they can make your pet’s holiday season miserable.

Some houseplants considered toxic to pets are Caladiums, Castor Bean, Dumbcane, Elephant Ear, Holly (berries), Hyacinth, Philodendron, Mistletoe, Lantana, Poinsettia, and Rosary Pea.

Some other houseplants considered mildly dangerous to pets are Ficus, Snake Plant, Schefflera, Croton, Jade, Aloe Vera, Dieffenbachia, Poinsettia, Pothos, Corn Plant, Chinese Evergreen, Peace Lily, and Antherium. These plants can cause mouth and throat irritation. Moderately toxic plants like the Norfolk Pine and Ivy can produce the above symptoms and could cause vomiting, depression, pale gums, and low body temperature.

Always investigate whether or not a plant will safe for your pet before introducing it into your home. This would be an excellent time to take inventory of your houseplants and do a little research to verify their safety.

The basic rule with medications is the same as with small children, keep them stored up and well out of reach. Spilled medicines should immediately be picked-up. Many over-the-counter medications are deadly to pets.

Christmas wrap, decorations, and clutter:
Christmas brings a lot of joy and celebration, but many of the trappings associated with the season can be a danger to your pet. Some of these items are tinsel, ribbon, ornament hooks, staples from bows, tape, candy wrappers, gift wrap, small batteries, tree water, and small parts from toys.

These items can be choking hazards, others, if swallowed can lead to blockage or damage to the gastrointestinal track, anxious moments, and expensive vet bills. So plan ahead and have a large trash bin handy on Christmas morning for all the garbage.

Remember to check the garage, making sure that all hazardous chemicals and items are fully out of the reach of your pet and any small children that may be visiting during the holidays. Also, purchase heavy-duty extension cords with the thicker insulation to provide more protection for the pet and home.

If a pet has ingested something poisonous immediately call your local veterinarian or emergency center. A vital phone number to have available is the ASPCA Poison Hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

Additional information on toxic substances and hazards is available from the Humane Society and ASPCA.

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