With our holiday season slowly approaching, we wanted you to be mindful of some hazards that may go unnoticed in your household:
Tinsel, Ribbon and other Pretty Things
Eating tinsel or other string can cause serious damage to the intestine. One end can get stuck when the rest is pulled into the intestine as it contracts.
These contractions may cause the ribbon or tinsel to saw through the intestine. Here, they are considered linear foreign bodies.
If not caught in time, infection of the belly cavity develops.
Pets with linear foreign bodies quickly become ill with signs including vomiting, diarrhea, depression, belly pain and sometimes fever.
Eating other holiday decorations can cause signs ranging from mild depression to severe vomiting or diarrhea, depending on whether or not the foreign matter can be passed in the stool or gets stuck along the way.
Foreign matter stuck in the intestine often does not show up on x-rays, but sometimes (not always) the foreign matter will trap air in the intestine, which helps us make a diagnosis.
Surgery would be required to remove foreign matter that does not pass out on its own.
Decorative lights are another attraction for pets to chew on. Both indoor and outdoor lights should be carefully examined to ensure it is safe for your household pets.
Electrical shock may occur from defective cords as well as from pets chewing on cords. Check cords for any signs of bite marks, loose or frayed wires, proximity to the tree’s water source or evidence of short circuits.
Electrical shock can cause burns, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, loss of consciousness, and death.
Have you ever wondered why your dog or cat has their head in the toilet bowl when they have a fresh bowl of water to call their own? For some reason, there is something enticing about a novel source of water.
Watch out for your pet drinking from the Christmas Tree supply – especially if you add chemicals to keep your tree fresh longer. Check to make sure that the chemical is safe for pets to injest.
Holidays = Food, Food, and More Food…
We all have a certain family member who likes to be festive and give a secret ‘treat’ from the dinner table to the pets under the table – admit it, it may even be you!
The pets may develop a stomach upset or worse, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) which can be caused by eating fatty foods – and you know what that means: a visit to your veterinarian.
To avoid this scenario, you can ask that your guests not feed your pets from the table, but if they must, to give treats your pets would normally receive and let your guests “treat” the pets.
And your pets can be curious creatures – if you are not there to stop them from going on your countertops for food, they can have a feast of their own! So be wary!!
Sometimes, the perfect gift that we give and receive during the holidays is a box of chocolates.
We have to be careful with how we eat and store these delectable treats as chocolate can be toxic or even fatal to dogs and cats. Chocolate may be mistakenly given to pets as treats and may be irresistible to the curious canine.
Chocolate poisoning occurs most frequently in dogs, but that isn’t to say that it doesn’t occur to cats.
Theobromine is the toxic compound in question that is found in chocolate.
Signs which may appear within 1 to 4 hours of eating chocolate include:
- Increased thirst
- Difficulty keeping balance
- Muscle spasms, seizures, coma
- Death from abnormal heart rhythm
The toxicity of chocolate depends on the amount and type of chocolate consumed, but it only takes a few ounces of unsweetened cocoa, dark chocolate, baking chocolate and semisweet chocolate individually for toxic signs to appear.
If you think your pet may have ingested chocolate of any type, call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital immediately.
Have the product label information available when you call the veterinarian.
In general, the treatment of poisonings is most effective if begun soon after eating the poison, before large amounts are absorbed into the blood.
Poinsettias, Mistletoe, and Holly
Poinsettias are actually not very toxic to pets. They cause some oral and gastro-intestinal upset, but they are not poisonous.
Mistletoe, on the other hand, is VERY TOXIC to animals and you should seek veterinary consultation immediately if your pet has potentially ingested any part of the plant. Mistletoe can cause vomiting, severe diarrhea, difficult breathing, shock and death within hours of ingestion.
There are many species of Holly. Berries and leaves can be a problem although signs of poisonings are generally mild, and include vomiting, belly pain, and diarrhea.
If you notice that your pet feels in any way “off”, showing signs any of the previous listed symptoms, remember, the earlier they seek veterinary assistance the better!
Here’s wishing you all a very Happy and Safe Holiday Season!