As we inch closer and closer to the holiday season, and we look for ways to celebrate and make family and friends feel at home, it is important that we consider our four-footed family members, too. Unfortunately, there are many opportunities in the last few months of the year for our pets to get into trouble, so we at Ambassador Animal Hospital in Greenville, SC wanted to help you plan ahead for a safe and fun holiday for everyone, including the short, furry ones. Here are a few things to consider for pet health in your home.
Not all food is good for pets. Just because you can eat it doesn’t mean that they can. Some of the most common presenting complaints at our emergency hospital in Greenville, SC are food related or ingestion related. With a little conscious effort, you can ensure a smooth holiday season with zero casualties (except maybe your waistline)!
Some things to consider:
Chocolate: probably the most common concern when it comes to pets and food, chocolate contains theobromine, which can make dogs (and cats) very sick. Symptoms can range from vomiting and diarrhea, to heart arrhythmias, and seizures. The darker the chocolate, the worse it is for them, so make sure that everything from your Halloween candy to your dark baking chocolate is put up safely out of reach.
Raisins: Far lesser known, raisins and grapes can be particular dangers to both dogs and cats, as they can cause kidney failure. Still little is known why this happens in some pets, so in any case involving raisins, it should be treated as poison. But hey, at least now you have a reason to tell Aunt Barb to leave the fruitcake at home this year.
Dough: Yeast dough rises, and that doesn’t change just because “Buster” ate some. The rise of the yeast in the gastrointestinal system can cause severe discomfort and pain, and if it is able to ferment, it could provide enough alcohol to constitute alcohol poisoning.
Candy: Too much sugar isn’t good for anyone, and that includes pets. But a lot of candy now uses xylitol or other artificial sweeteners, and that is a definite no-no for “Fido.” Xylitol causes the body to produce more insulin than usual leading to hypoglycemic shock, and it can also cause liver failure! Xylitol is also commonly found in gum, mints, and jello. Instead of feeding pets your sweets, get them their own treats, instead.
Fireworks get a lot of flack for scaring pets into hiding under the bed, but there are other things to consider during those light-filled celebrations. First, if your pet is firework-afraid, try investing in a Thundershirt, or try holding them snugly to you to ensure they feel safe. If you know your pet has severe anxiety, please contact Ambassador Animal Hospital for medication to combat this and keep your pet comfortable. When it comes to fireworks at home, if your pet is outside with you, make sure they stay away from sparklers, lighters, matches, and especially lit fireworks. In fact, it might be a better idea to leave them inside at home with a movie playing to drown out the booming noises and give them a little more peace.
Along with fireworks, glow sticks make their rounds during the holidays. But to “Rover”, that glow stick is just a shiny chew-toy. While the insides are typically non-toxic and not fatal to pets, it’s still an icky substance that can cause excessive drooling, nausea or illness. Not to mention, they can make a HUGE mess in your home.
There is no more fun than dressing up “Ralphie” like an elf for Christmas, or giving “Bella” a makeover into a lion for Halloween. But make sure you inspect those costumes closely—small parts can be easily bitten off or chewed on, and some potential choking hazards could be present. Also, elastic bands, strings, or ties can cause strangulation if your pet is not closely monitored. And please, if you are considering “painting” your pet, keep in mind that it is difficult to tell what paints (usually sprays) are safe for your pet, or how your furbaby will respond to them. Many of these products are toxic to animals. If in doubt, it’s better to leave them alone and dye-free.
Holiday Decorations and Plants
As you’re decorating the house this season, for one holiday or another, keep in mind that your décor could look pretty enticing to your pet. Poinsettias smell good, but are toxic and can cause significant illness to cats. Holly and mistletoe can present worse issues, like gastrointestinal troubles or heart arrhythmia. Lit candles can be problematic and cause house fires (or pet fires) if left unattended. Holiday potpourri can be dangerous if ingested, and while “Bubba” shattering some ornaments is annoying, “Bubba” eating the shards of those ornaments could be devastating. Not to mention holiday lights, and the dangers of chewing on those! Bottom line: keep the habits, height, and personality of your pet in mind when choosing and putting out any decoration.