Avoid Common Holiday Pitfalls for Your Pet!
By Deirdre Frey, VMD
Your pets love the holidays too! There are some common ways for pets to be naughty around the holidays. We've compiled a list so that you can avoid a Christmas-Day trip to the ER! 1. Keep your pets away from the yummy food. Holiday foods, especially the fatty yummy variety like ham, pork roasts, bacon-filled holiday breakfasts, and the like, can wreak havoc on a dog's digestive system. Not only can these foods cause a gastroenteritis, leading to the middle-of-the-night wake up calls (Santa might not come if you're awake!), but they can also cause pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas and can cause anything from mild GI symptoms to a severe, life-threatening, septic situation. So even though diets are hard during the holidays, keep your dog on one!
2. Keep those Christmas ornaments up high! Well, let's face it, adventurous cats can still get up in that tree (see picture) but try your best. Those ornaments are oh-so-tempting and they can accidentally swallow a stringy one and cause a surgical situation. And I think we all know by now that TINSEL IS BAD, unless feline emergency surgery is your thing. The other ornament tip is about those raw-dough ornaments. Think of the ones that have your child's hand imprinted on them, etc. Dogs loooove the taste of these but eating raw dough can cause a life-threatening salt poisoning. So keep those up high out of reach! 3. Keep the sweet stuff away. Everyone pretty much knows that chocolate is bad for dogs - the darker it is, the worser (as my three-year old says) it is. Have you heard about xylitol? It's in a lot of sugar-free candies, chocolates, gum, and baked goods. As little as one stick of Stride gum, for example, can be enough to kill a small dog. Xylitol causes low blood sugar and liver failure. So be careful of the sweet stuff! 4. Watch the flowers. Poinsettias may come to mind but I'm all "meh". They don't cause much of an issue - maybe a bit of diarrhea when eaten. Lilies however, which may be in some floral arrangements, are bad news for cats. One leaf or petal eaten by a cat can cause kidney failure. It's also good to know the 24-hour ASPCA poison control hotline at 1-888-426-4435 in case your pet eats something concerning over the holiday. Well, this is a bit of a downer but hopefully it's armed you a bit better this holiday season so that you can really enjoy it and your pets can too!