The holidays are here and that means decorations come out of storage and guests gather. Keep your beloved furbabies safe by taking a few moments to pet-proof your home for the holidays to avoid unforeseen hazards.
Avoid These Dangerous Foods
Chocolates- Chocolate products contain methylxanthines, which include caffeine and theobromine. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, your cat or dog may be at risk for serious complications.
Xylitol- Sugar-free items containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be deadly to dogs. Ingestion causes a dangerous drop in blood sugar, which can result in vomiting, lethargy, weakness, collapse, or seizures.
Fat Trimmings and Bones-Although it’s tempting to feed your pet fatty leftovers or bones, it’s best to avoid doing so. Possible consequences are serious and include inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), broken teeth, severe vomiting, diarrhea, or a blockage of the esophagus, stomach, or intestines — which would require emergency surgery.
Grapes and Raisins. Although we don’t know why it happens, eating grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. It’s not clear how much a dog must consume in order for these fruits to be dangerous, so it’s best to keep them far out of your pet’s reach
Alcohol- Dogs and cats are very sensitive to alcohol; even small amounts can cause coma and death. Signs usually appear within 15 to 30 minutes and may include an unsteady gait, vomiting, and lethargy.
Create a Safe Environment for Your Pets
Tinsel, ornaments, and ribbon. Cats are especially attracted to, and will want to play with, dangling or sparkly ornaments. Keep your pets away from ornaments, as broken glass from ornaments can cause cuts, and eating ornaments, tinsel, or hooks can cause serious intestinal injury.
Plants that are toxic- including Lilies- Poinsettias get the most attention as potentially poisonous holiday plants, but their toxicity is overrated. Eating them will not risk your cat or dog’s life, but ingesting the plant can cause mouth irritation and possibly vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause heart problems, but eating it usually only causes gastrointestinal symptoms. The same goes for holly.
If you’re a cat owner, lilies are the one plant you must worry about, because eating them can cause kidney failure. If you spot lilies in an arrangement, get them out of your home immediately and clean up any pollen — every part of the plant is toxic!
Another overlooked danger is Christmas tree water, which can contain fertilizer as well as bacteria.
Cords and candles. Pets often want to chew on electrical cords and lights, which can cause electrocution, so cover or hide all cords. And hide candles as well, because a dog or cat can knock them over and cause burns or a house fire.
Liquid potpourri. Keep potpourri out of reach, because both cats and dogs can be attracted to its smell. It takes only a few licks of these oils to cause serious chemical burns.
Stress and anxiety. If you’re having guests over and have an anxious or nervous pet, consider keeping the animal isolated in a quiet room with food, water, and a cozy bed. You can also speak to your veterinarian about medications that may help relieve anxiety.
Your guests. It may seem unnecessary, but guests — especially non-pet-owners — may unknowingly place your pet in danger. Make sure to show them where the “approved” treats are located, request that they keep luggage closed to prevent a curious pet from investigating it, and instruct them to not leave medications on tables.
What to Do About a Pet’s Holiday Mishap
If your pet is exposed to a toxin or seems ill, act quickly, because many veterinary interventions are time-sensitive. Taking immediate action can mean the difference between life and death for your pet.
Contact your veterinarian, local emergency clinic, or pet poison control center immediately if you have any concerns. If you need to go to the ER, remember to bring the wrapper or box with you if you know what your pet has swallowed, and so the vet can calculate the ingested dose. Two numbers to keep handy are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control center at 888-426-4435, and the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. Both provide valuable advice for a fee.