November has come and gone and Christmas decorations have started to show up in shopping malls, street sides and even around our Vancouver Animal Hospital. Most people are either planning their vacations or preparing to host family and friends for the holidays. The team at Amherst would like to offer some tips so everyone, including their pets can enjoy a safe and joyful holiday. Bondi, (featured here) dressed up in his lighting in a completely controlled environment, and there was no danger to him.

10 Holiday Hazards for your Pets:

1. Tinsel, ribbon and holiday decorations:
Even though they’re not toxic, tinsel and ribbon can cause serious injury to a cat or dog if consumed. Ingestion of these foreign materials can result in bunching and obstruction of the intestines requiring surgery, and can even be fatal. Other ornaments and decorations may look like fun toys to your pets but if your pet chews or swallows these fragile objects it can lead to serious injury. Broken pieces with sharp edges can be a choking hazard or may cause injury to your pet if stepped on or swallowed. Try to keep these out of your pet’s reach!

2. Poisonous Plants:
– Poinsettias: Although commonly thought of as very poisonous, ingestion of Poinsettias usually only results in very mild signs including irritation to the mouth and hypersalivation. In rare cases it has caused vomiting and diarrhea.
– Mistletoe: Ingestion of Mistletoe leaves or berries can be very toxic to pets. Signs may include vomiting, and diarrhea, but can progress to an abnormal heart rate, difficulty breathing, seizures, coma and even death.
– Holly: Ingestion generally results in gastrointestinal upset including excessive salivation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression.
– Lilies: Many types of lilies can be found in holiday flower arrangements and if ingested can cause kidney failure in cats.

3. Turkey (fat trimmings, meat, and bones):
Avoid giving turkey bones (especially cooked) to your dog or cat because bones can easily splinter causing injury to the intestines. Small bony fragments can also cause severe intestinal blockages. Ensure turkey and other meats are fully cooked if fed to your pets. Raw or undercooked meat can contain salmonella bacteria and can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Ingestion of fat trimmings or overindulgence of other holiday foods can also lead to an upset stomach, diarrhea or pancreatitis in your pet.

4. Antifreeze:
Antifreeze is very tasty and animals will readily consume it if given the opportunity. Very small amounts can be lethal to cats and dogs. Antifreeze should be stored carefully and any spills should be thoroughly cleaned up immediately. Seek immediate veterinary attention if your pet has consumed antifreeze!

5. Salt:
The salt used to melt ice and snow can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. It is best to wipe off their paws when your pet comes back from a walk. Other ice melting products can also be irritating to the skin and mouth if ingested; signs may include excessive drooling, vomiting and depression.

6. Holiday lights:
Dogs and cats may be curious to chew on new extension cords or bright strings of lights around the tree or house. Chewing on these cords can cause electrical shock, which can result in burns, difficulty breathing and death.

7. Christmas tree water:
Although Christmas tree water may be a novelty for your pet, stagnant tree water can contain chemicals or fertilizers from the tree itself, or even bacteria – if your pet drinks too much of this water it may result in stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea.

8. Potpourri:
Commonly used during the holiday season, potpourri can be dangerous if ingested by your pet. Exposure to some types of liquid potpourri can result in damage to your pet’s mouth, skin or eyes.

9. Stress:
With the hustle and bustle of the holidays ensure your pets have a quiet place to get away if they desire. As always be careful with open doors and guests coming and going; make sure your pets have a collar with tags or microchip in case they slip out.

10. Other dangerous holiday food items:
– Alcoholic beverages: Ingestion of alcohol can result in vomiting, dangerous drops in blood pressure and body temperature, collapse and even death.
– Chocolate: All types of chocolate can be very toxic to cats and dogs; in general the darker (and richer) the chocolate the higher the risk of toxicity.
– Nuts: Ingestion of macadamia nuts or moldy walnuts can result in lethargy, vomiting, joint stiffness and tremors. Almonds, pistachios and other nuts can also cause an upset stomach or can even lead to an intestinal obstruction.
– Yeast dough: When raw bread dough is ingested it can expand in your pet’s stomach leading to severe bloating and abdominal pain. This can be a life-threatening emergency that may require surgery.

If you think your pet has consumed a toxin or foreign object contact us right away! Amherst Veterinary Hospital. We hope everyone enjoys a safe and happy holiday!

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