Critters & Creatures

Keeping Your Pets Safe this Festive Season

Dr. Michelle Scantland

The holiday season is here. It’s a time to celebrate with friends and family and in some cases with our pets! If you plan to be away for the holidays make sure you plan for proper care of your pets. Visiting a boarding kennel and booking ahead is important as this is one of the busiest times for kennels. Also, book early; there are only so many spots at this time of year. Ensuring that your pet is up to date on vaccines and your dog has the Kennel Cough vaccine well ahead of boarding is essential or they may be refused.

If you plan on spending the holidays with your furry friends, here are some tips on how to keep the holiday season safe:

Decorations: Make sure that your pets don’t have access to decorations; many of these are attractive to them but can be very harmful. Glass balls can fall and break causing cuts, small ornaments can be swallowed and get stuck, and tinsel can be extremely dangerous to cats and they seem to like to eat it like its going out of style. So NO TINSEL on the tree! Poinsettias are a popular Christmas decoration but unfortunately the plant is toxic to your pets if eaten. So keep them in an area that is inaccessible to both cats and dogs.

Chocolate: Chocolate can be toxic to pets depending on type and the amount eaten. It’s best to keep all chocolate well out of reach of your pets. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous as it has a higher concentration of theobromine, the toxic element. Dogs and cats who are suffering from chocolate toxicity can have any of the following symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rhythm, and in worst cases: death. If your pet accidently gets into the Christmas chocolate take note of the following and call your veterinarian as soon as possible: type of chocolate (dark or baker’s, semi-sweet, milk), approximately how much was ingested, the time they ate it, and your dog’s weight. Your veterinarian will be able to calculate the amount of theobromine your pet was exposed to and what treatment is required.

Turkey: Spoiling our pets is one of the ways we bond with them, and most of us have thrown a table scrap to a begging dog. As far as turkey goes a little is fine, as long as they don’t have a sensitive stomach. But, NO BONES. Turkey bones belong only in a big soup pot or the garbage well out of reach of your cat or dog. Bones can get stuck in intestines, cause trauma, and in certain cases, may require surgery.

Presents: There are many fun toys and gifts for pets out there. The guide to choosing safe and fun toys as presents is common sense. If it’s small enough to swallow it’s too small. If they start to eat a toy take it away. If they get sick from a new treat don’t give it to them again. Moderation is the key.

Have a safe and pet-happy holiday season!

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