It's that time of year again! Cheer and Celebration! Food and Festivities! Families and Friends!
But what about the Holiday Hazards that accompany our fun? As your home routine gets disrupted, there are some particular concerns for your pets during this time of year. We at Sooke Vet are here to help! To start, here are some hazards to be aware of and how to avoid them!
While we like to wrap things under the tree or set up special decorations, it's important to recognize things that may be dangerous to your pet. Here are some commonly seen toxicities around the holidays.
Plants: Amaryllis, Azaleas, Chrysanthemums, Evergreens, Holly, Ivy, Juniper, Lilly, Mistletoe are all toxic. And yes, poinsettias are not great either, but they cause stomach upset, and ulcers in the mouth (so vomiting and diarrhea happen!) and are not considered poisonous.
Chocolate: Chocolate can cause arrhythmias, stomach upset, and death in high enough quantities. The amount of cocoa matters; the darker the chocolate, the worse the effect. Keep them away from your pets (yes, even cats)
Raisins: Keep Fido away from the fruitcake! Raisins cause kidney failure in dogs! (It also applies to grapes, although that's less festive!)
Macadamia nuts: It's a mild toxicity but can cause depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness.
Make sure these items are away from your pet, even if wrapped. Their noses will detect the goodies within and might land you at the emergency clinic late one night!
2. Electrical chords
Setting up lights and the tree look so lovely but watch that chords are not in an easily-reached location for a young animal. Most animals will out-grow this obsession with chewing wires, but some pets may re-discover their desire to chew when left alone or anxious. Give them appropriate chew things, and keep the chords away!
3. Ornaments and decorations:
Decorations: Vets hate tinsel and ribbons. Why? Long thin items are fun for pets (especially cats), to play with, but then they might swallow them. And if the object tangles and can't pass, you're off to see a vet for an emergency surgery. Prevent that by not having these items available without supervision!
Ornaments: Although more uncommon, hooks on the tree ornaments can cause grief too. The hooks can get stuck anywhere from through lips to half way down the intestines! Use a short loop of string and hang them out of reach!
The tree: A curious pet can bring that tree down in an instant! Cats tend to like to climb the tree too. Secure it to the wall to prevent toppled treetops from ruining your morning. Ingestion of the needles is also not good, so keep it tidy!
We love our pets and want to spoil them, and what better time than the holidays! But look out; not all toys and treats are a good idea.
Hard toys: Any toy should pass the 'kneecap test': if you don't want someone to hit you in the kneecap with it, don't buy it for your pet. Hard toys like antlers or bones are the leading cause of broken teeth down the road. Pick something firm but not hard, like a durable rubber toy or the newer 'indestructibles.'
Battery-operated toys: Because our pets like to chew and destroy, a battery can be a problem. Swallowing the battery is very dangerous! These toys are not for avid chewers and should be avoided.
Squeakers: If your pet likes the squeak, get a toy that has a built-in squeak, not one of the cheap plastic UFO-shaped squeakers within. A bit of chewing can free that choking hazard from the toy. If it goes down to the stomach, the squeaker is also about the right size to get stuck somewhere along the intestines!
Outfits: Tassels and bells and bows! So cute. So… edible?? Please avoid dangling things on outfits. It won't take long for something to end up in the stomach! Also make sure things fit properly so they don't chaff or impede breathing.
For an anxious animal, changes are hard enough but add in new people, including potentially different types of people (like children!), and it's a recipe for significant stress. Look for these signs of stress in your pets, then look for ways to mitigate the impact of your visitors.
Signs of stress:
Panting without being hot or under exertion
Barking (especially alarm barking)
Yawning when not tired
Hypervigilence (constantly looking around)
Avoidance behaviours (eg sniffing something, turning away, ignoring)
Changes in posture (cowering, slinking etc.)
We hope everyone gets to enjoy the festive season with their furry loved ones and, with a bit of foresight and planning, not have to visit any emergency clinic! Happy Holidays!