Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday Pet Health Tips

Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday Pet Health Tips

If you are planning to take your pet with you when visiting friends and relatives during the holidays, be sure to contact them in advance to find out if your pet is welcome. Because of the excitement during the holidays, it might be best to board your pet or hire a reputable pet sitter.

Increased activity and visitors during the winter holiday season can upset your pet’s routine. Try to keep your pet on his regular schedule for feeding and exercise and be sure the pet gets plenty of love.

Pets’ highly sensitive noses pick up scents before humans can. Therefore, don’t be surprised when Fluffy and Fido are underfoot in the kitchen while Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday goodies are being prepared. Watch those hot containers filled with turkey and ham drippings. Pets can easily tip them over causing severe scalding and burns to themselves.

Don’t feed your pet rich, fatty or spicy people food; this can cause serious upset to their digestive systems. Also, wrapped gifts under the tree that may be food items could be hazardous, and remember that chocolate, onions, raisins and alcohol can be fatal to your pet!

BONES ARE DANGEROUS! Please don’t feed your pets bones, especially poultry bones. Poultry bones splinter easily – each year thousands of pets are treated for consumption of splintered bones, causing pain and sometimes death.

Those lovely bubbling holiday lights are of moderate to lethal toxicity, depending on the amount of fluid (methylene chloride) inhaled or ingested.

Hang your treasured ornaments (particularly glass) higher on the Christmas tree. Use wooden, medal, resin-cast or the like on the lower branches in case curious little paws want to play with bright and colorful ornaments. Tinsel isn’t toxic, but if ingested, intestinal obstruction and choking are potential problems, especially with cats.

Do not let pets drink the holiday tree water. Some may contain fertilizers, and stagnant tree water can harbor bacteria. Check labels for tree water preservatives and artificial snow, and buy only those that are non-toxic. Some folks use screens around trees to block access to electrical cords and gifts.

Secure your tree to a wall or ceiling hook with sturdy fishing line. This will help prevent the tree from toppling over should your pet jump on it or accidentally knock it over.

Replace metal ornament hooks with tightly knotted fabric 1/4 inch ribbons, light-weight twine or yarn to slip easily over the branches of the tree.

Resist the temptation to tie ribbons around pets’ necks for the holidays. The pets can tighten ribbons resulting in choking or hang themselves if the ribbon is caught on an object.

Keep gift ribbons and bows out of sight to prevent chewing and swallowing.

A number of Christmas season plants are poisonous to pets if nibbled or eaten: ivy – moderate to very toxic, all parts; holly – moderate to very toxic, especially the berries and leaves; mistletoe – very toxic, all parts, especially the berries; Christmas greens such as balsam, juniper, cedar, pine and fir – all parts have a low level of toxicity; hibiscus – may cause vomiting or bloody diarrhea if ingested; and poinsettias – leaves and stems low in toxicity. This is not a conclusive listing…there are many more toxic plants. It’s wise to keep plants out of your pets’ and children’s reach. For more information visit: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Please do not give any animal or any pet of any age as Easter and Christmas gifts. Remember the first weeks of a new life or a sudden change for an adult pet is extremely traumatic for them. Even if you know a pet is wanted, instead give gifts of pet supplies, food, and accessories, or even a gift certificate for adoption. Then after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the loved one can make the selection of the pet of their choice to bring home.

For those animal lovers who have allergies or feel that a house pet would be too much due to other health reasons or too long hours and hectic schedules, give a gift of sponsorship at a local shelter. There are many needy animals needing additional care!

If your pet ingests glass, broken plastic, staples or other small or sharp objects, call your veterinarian. In the meantime, you can give your dog supplemental fiber in the form of whole wheat or other high-fiber bread, canned pumpkin or Metamucil (generic = psyllium), any of which can help bulk up the stools to help the foreign material pass through the digestive system. Dosages depend on the size of the pet. For Metamucil, try a teaspoon for a small dog, a tablespoon for a big dog. For pumpkin, feed one-quarter to two-thirds of a cup.

Now is also a good time to check smoke-detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and other safety devices and replace batteries. When batteries run low, the devices often emit alarms at frequencies that can be painful and frightening to pets. If you’re not home when the alarm sounds, your pets will have to endure that sound until you return, which can be traumatic.