Dec 11, 2009

Holiday Pet Safety

Pets are an important part of the family, especially during the holidays. While most of us are busy making festive arrangements, we must not forget our pets safety. Once you know the hazards, a little additional precaution and planning will make the holiday a happy time for everyone. Common holiday hazards to be aware of:

Be mindful of holiday decorations...
Something as simple as an electrical cord, tinsel, or a decorative ribbon may pose a threat if your pet thinks it is something to chew. Use cord protectors and learn which plants are poisonous to your pets, including ivy, mistletoe, and poinsettia.

Keep time out in the cold to a minimum...
Just because your pets have fur, doesn't mean they don't get cold. Animals should be kept out of extreme temperatures. Walks in snow can lead to frostbitten paws. Never leave your pet in a car for an extended period in extreme temperatures.

House guests may unknowingly introduce unsafe conditions if their medicines and toiletries become accessible to pets. Outdoor chemical exposure increases in winter--whether chemicals or salt used to clear icy streets or antifreeze that has leaked from your car. Wipe away chemicals and salt from fur and paws after a walk. If you suspect your pet has ingested poison, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 1-888-426-4435.

Arrange for qualified pet sitting if leaving town for the holidays...
Even though some animals do well for a few days, it's important to have someone check in on your pet. Ask your friend or pet sitter to contact you with daily updates. If you can't find a neighbor or friend, look into kennels or bring your animal to a pet-friendly hotel with you.

Make sure young children are supervised when with an animal...
Young children may not understand the consequences of their actions when playing with a pet. If your animal is exposed to children, make sure both are safe by paying close attention during interactions (or place pet in another room).

If giving a pet, consider giving pet care stocking stuffers...
Giving a pet can be a sweet holiday gift. Before you give a pet as a family gift, take the overall home environment into account: Will the animal be well cared for? Is there enough time to dedicate to a new pet? Are the children old enough to understand the responsibility of pet care? If the answer is yes, giving an animal can lead to years of joy. Consider giving a pet-care book and a super-reflective collar so that health and safety will be the most important thing in the life of a new pet.

On a totally different note...


Yes folks, keep an eye on your children, lest they end up on MSNBC.


Save Moki said...

Hi Lizzie,

Thanks for stopping by and sending Moki your get well wishes. At the moment he is curled up in what I like to call his sick bed, a cat bed that he only likes to sleep in when he's not feeling good. Hopefully once we can get him some more Tamiflu and get that in his system, he'll start to perk up and be his normal self again!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for spreading the word on pet safety - AWESOME information! :) Here are some more tips from Pet Poison Helpline, another animal poison control based out of Minneapolis. Thanks for spreading the word!

Dr. Justine Lee, DVM, DACVECC
Associate Director of Veterinary Services
Pet Poison Helpline

The holidays are stressful enough without having to worry about a potentially poisoned pet. Below is a list of holiday-related decorations, plants and food items that the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline recommend keeping away from pets.

• Holiday Ornaments: When decorating for the season, consider your pets. Holiday decorations such as snow globes or bubble lights may contain poisonous chemicals. If your pet chews on them the liquid inside could be could be dangerous to their health. Methylene chloride, the chemical in bubble lights, can result in depression, aspiration pneumonia and irritation to the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract.

• Tinsel: If you own a cat, forgo the tinsel. What looks like a shiny toy to your cat can prove deadly if ingested. Tinsel does not pose a poisoning risk but can cause severe damage to a cat’s intestinal tract if swallowed. Ultimately, cats run the risk of severe injury to, or rupture of their intestines and treatment involves expensive abdominal surgery.

• Alcohol: Because alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, it affects pets quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure. Additionally, foods such as desserts containing alcohol and unbaked dough that contains yeast should be kept away from pets as they may result in alcohol toxicity, vomiting, disorientation and stomach bloat.

• Holiday Foods: With the holiday season comes a delightful variety of baked goods, chocolate confections and other rich, fattening foods. However, it is not wise (and in some cases is quite dangerous) to share these treats with your pets. Keep your pet on his or her regular diet over the holidays and do not let family and friends sneak in treats. Foods that can present problems:
- Foods containing grapes, raisins and currents (such as fruit cakes) can result in kidney failure in dogs.
- Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, a chemical highly toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion in small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea but large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias.
- Many sugarless gums and candies contain xylitol, a sweetener which is toxic to dogs. It causes a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and liver failure.
- Leftover, fatty meat scraps can produce severe inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) leading to abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

• Liquid Potpourri: Filling your house with the smell of nutmeg or pine for the holidays may seem inviting—but if you’re partial to heating your scented oils in a simmer pot, know that they can cause serious harm to your cat; even a few licks can result in severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing, and tremors. Dogs aren’t as sensitive, but it’s still better to be safe than sorry—so scent your home with a non-toxic candle kept safely out of kitty’s reach.

When it comes to the holidays, the best thing a pet owner can do is get educated on common household toxins and pet-proof your home accordingly. If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 ($35/call vs ASPCA's $60/case) with any questions or concerns.