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Dangers for your pet at Christmas Time

Now that the festive holiday season is upon us and we are all rushing around with a million things to do, it is important not to forget that Christmas can be a hazardous time for our pets.

The top 5 reasons pets visit a Veterinarian on Christmas Day:

  1. Gastritis / Enteritis
  2. Foreign body ingestion
  3. Soft tissue trauma
  4. Lacerations or bite wounds
  5. Chocolate poisoning

It is very tempting to give the dog the remains of the Christmas turkey, just remember bones can and do kill. When bones are cooked they become very brittle and when the dog chews them they splinter into needle sharp pieces. These pieces can become stuck in the stomach or intestines and can perforate the bowel, which is life threatening. Uncooked bones can have the same effect as cooked bones so it is best to avoid bones all together. If the bowel becomes perforated the insides of the abdomen become infected. A surgical procedure is the only way to remove bones from the intestinal tract. Christmas meals often produce a lot of fatty left over's and the family pet often ends up being given these. Excessively fatty foods can cause pancreatitis which is inflammation of the pancreas. It is very painful and requires intensive care for the animals' intestinal system to get back to normal.

Take care with floral arrangements and plants especially if you have a cat; all Lilies are toxic to cats and the pollen can easily get on their coats if they brush past an arrangement, they can then ingest the toxins when they groom themselves. Poinsettias are also a common addition to the home at Christmas; they are also toxic to your pet if ingested.

You may be tempted to fashion your pet with a decorative ribbon "collar" but beware that this could become a choking hazard. Also, it's best to quickly discard ribbons and bows wrapped around holiday gifts so that your curious companions won't be enticed to chew or swallow them. Ingested ribbon can cause a choking hazard and ultimately twist throughout the intestines, leading to emergency surgery and even death.

Twinkling, shiny and dangling holiday lights may be another source of danger to your curious pets. Got a pet that likes to chew? Electrical shock may occur when a pet chomps down on an electrical cord, causing tongue lacerations and possible death. Check your holiday lights for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution. If you have candles on display, place them in a hard to reach spot so that your pets can not access them. Not only can pets seriously burn themselves, but knocking over candles creates a fire hazard and may leave a trail of hot wax that will easily burn the pads of paws and skin.

Many households hang chocolate treats on the tree or wrap presents containing chocolate and place them underneath the tree. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats it contains a substance called theobromine. Dark chocolate is the worst as it contains a greater concentration of theobromine. Dogs especially are attracted to the smell of chocolate treats. It is important not to leave any chocolate treats in reach of pets, remember to shut them out of the room where the tree is when you go to bed or go out.

Christmas trees are more dangerous to pets than fake plastic ones. Pine needles can puncture internal organs if eaten; they are also toxic to pets. Pine trees can also be a cause of skin irritation in pets with skin allergies. If you do have a real tree, make sure the drink stand for the tree has plenty of water to prevent the tree drying out & losing needles. It is important that your pet isn't able to get to this water & drink it as it could result in poisoning. Cats love to play with string and tinsel is even more attractive as it sparkles. Tinsel can get stuck in the digestive tract if ingested causing serious problems for your pet and often requiring an operation to remove it.

Some pets love the attention of visitors; others find strangers in their house stressful. Christmas is often a busy time with visitors coming & going. Be mindful of your pets feelings & give the option of somewhere quiet to escape to should the need arise; this is particularly important if your friends & relatives have young children.

Christmas is a time of year to celebrate and be with family, the last thing anyone would want is to be stuck in a Veterinary Clinic on Christmas day. Taking precautions with pets during these festive times can help ensure that you and your family will enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season! If you have any other questions please feel free to give the Veterinary Clinic a call, we would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Have a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year!