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The holidays are a festive time for us and our pets. However, due to ongoing activities and constant distractions, potential dangers to our furry family members are easily overlooked. River Mill Animal Hospital wants to help you take preventive measures to protect your pets this holiday season. Being aware of the following dangers could save you a trip to the veterinary emergency room.

Holiday Tinsel and Ornaments

Tinsel is very attractive to pets. This shiny dangling decoration reflects the light and moves in the slightest draft, that can be appealing to watchful critters. When tinsel is consumed it can cause serious injury by creating an intestinal blockage. As a result, we recommend avoiding tinsel completely.

In addition, bright and colorful ornaments can attract your pet’s curiosity. Sharp edges may lacerate your pet’s digestive tract and cause a choking hazard. To keep your pets safe from holiday displays and trees use a baby gate to block off these areas.

Holiday Lighting and Candles

Holiday lights are a source of danger for your pets. Electrical shock can occur when cords and wires are chewed, resulting in severe injury or death. Therefore, a ground extension cord should be used and monitored daily for signs of bite marks or fraying of wires. Keep cords and light wires out of pet traffic areas.

Candles are another light hazard for pets. Along with burns from flames, accidental fires can occur if a candle is knocked off a table or shelve. When displaying candles, place them where your pets have no access. Using a flameless candle is a safe alternative to traditional flame candles without endangering your pets.

Gift Ribbon

You may be tempted to fashion your pet with a decorative ribbon “collar” but this is extremely unsafe. The ribbon can tighten and become caught on objects causing them to choke. Much like tinsel, ribbon may also cause intestinal blockage if consumed. To avoid an unwanted surgical procedure, it is best to quickly discard of ribbon and bows.

Food Hazards

Festive events often mean yummy treats…for humans! Unfortunately, most popular holiday goodies like chocolate, fat trimmings, bones, nuts, and other seasonal snacks are toxic and potentially fatal to pets. 

  • Chocolate: Different types of chocolate contain various amounts of fat, caffeine, and the substance methyl xanthine, a natural stimulant. Rule of thumb, the darker the chocolate, the higher the risk of toxicity. Depending on the type, amount, and size of the pet symptoms are wide spread including: vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, heart arrhythmias, tremors, seizures, and death.
  • Fat Trimmings and Bones: Whether or not they are cooked or raw pets should never be fed fat trimmings or bones. Although the saying is “give a dog a bone” these can create choking hazards and intestinal blockages. Bones may also splinter leading to laceration of the mouth and digestive tract.
  • Nuts: Certain nuts are toxic to pets. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios can cause stomach upset. Macadamia nuts are highly toxic causing seizures and neurological symptoms along with lethargy, vomiting and loss of muscle control.

Our Tampa Bay veterinarian recommends not feeding your pet anything other than their normal diet this holiday season. Caution house guests against giving your pets special treats or table scraps.

Holiday Plants

As pretty as they may be some holiday plants are poisonous and a few are fatal. For example, a single leaf from any variety of lilies is lethal to cats. Other plants to avoid include:

  • Christmas tree needles, as they can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling, and posterior weakness.
  • Holly and mistletoe can cause significant vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, hallucinations, and possible death depending on the amount ingested.
  • Poinsettias are not highly toxic however in large quantities, mouth irritation and vomiting can occur.

To be safe keep plants on high shelves or completely away from pet accessible areas. If ingestion occurs, contact River Mill Animal Hospital immediately.

Dr. Hodge and the staff at River Mill Animal Hospital wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season! If you have any questions regarding holiday safety, toxic food or plants, or any other questions concerning your pet’s medical needs please feel free to call our office at any time. 

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