Friday, December 19, 2014

Five Holiday Pet Precautions You Need to Know About

holiday pet health tips

The holidays are one of the best times of the year – and chances are, your curious pet agrees! They’re probably noticing a lot of changes taking place around the house, including fun new scratching posts (Christmas trees), toys (tinsel), and a surplus of holiday company that they’ll get to charm into feeding them table scraps. That said, it’s not all fun and games. Whether you own a dog or a cat, careless holiday mistakes can pose a serious threat to your pet. So follow our holiday pet precautions and make sure Fido enjoys his Christmas day chewing on his brand new bone, not taking a trip to the vet.

1. Keep Holiday Plants Out of Reach

You’ll want that mistletoe hanging overhead anyway, but do keep in mind that this charming holiday tradition poses a major toxicity threat to pets. Both dogs and cats who ingest mistletoe risk intestinal upset, seizures, a serious drop in blood pressure, breathing problems, and even death. So make sure this popular plant is well-secured. Holly and poinsetta plants, too, are extremely toxic. Keep them high up and tightly-secured, and call a vet immediately if your dog or cat ingests something.

2. Be Mindful of Christmas Trees

We all remember that scene from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” While things may not end that terribly, it’s a fact that Christmas trees, though beautiful, are also a dangerous source of curiosity for both cats and dogs. And why wouldn’t they be? There are things to climb, ornaments to bat, and there’s tree stand water to imbibe. Unfortunately, in addition to being an annoyance for humans, this is also extremely dangerous. Pets can cause electrical fires, knock over the trees, ingest harmful materials, and more. We’d suggest setting up a baby gate or another barrier around the entire tree to keep it – and your furry loved ones – safe.

3. Don’t Leave Stockings or Open Gifts Lying Around

Pet owners instinctively know to clean up after themselves and keep chocolate and other temptations out of reach. Not so for visiting guests. Make sure your guests know that after they open their stocking and their other presents, they should keep them safely on a table or shelf. Otherwise, their favorite new sweater might just become your dog’s favorite new chew toy.

4. Know Which Table Scraps Are Dangerous to Dogs 

We do not condone feeding your dog from the table, but putting some leftover ham or gravy in their dish can make a wonderful holiday treat. Just know which foods your dog can and cannot ingest. Definite don’ts include: raisins, currants, sweets and sweeteners, and, of course, chocolate. And as much as you might want to give them the fat you’ve trimmed from a piece of meat, fatty foods can also cause serious digestive upsets. Instead, choose a lean meat or a small helping of sweet potatoes sans butter. The golden rule here is: everything in moderation. Anything your dog is not used to may cause an upset stomach.

5. Clean Up Holiday Tinsel, Ribbons, and Wrapping Paper

If you’re a cat owner, you may have given up on tinsel long ago. Cats absolutely love this shiny, dangly “toy.” Unfortunately, it can cause serious damage to a cat’s digestive tract. Holiday ribbons and foil-like wrapping paper is also a serious problem, so clean up as you go. Pass a recycling or trash bag around as your guests open their gifts, and allow them to deposit their wrapping paper and ribbons directly into the bag. As a bonus, this will help you avoid the chaos of clean-up later.

So enjoy your holidays, be safe, and make sure to pick up an extra-special bone or catnip mouse for your four-legged loved one. Happy holidays from Medi-Vet!