It’s already been feeling like winter for the past few weeks but it is officially now the holiday season. With the rush of Black Friday behind us, it’s on with the decorating, baking and wrapping. It is easy to get caught up in all the activities but it is also important to be mindful of our pets this time of year.
With all the hustle and bustle, some more sensitive pets may become stressed by the change in schedule. If you are going to be away longer than usual, plan to have someone look in on your dog and take him outside. If you will be having visitors, remember that some pets are fine with houseguests, but some are nervous about new people in their territory. Using a pheromone such as Adaptil for dogs or Feliway for cats may ease the stress. Encouraging your guests to offer treats and play time may help your pet warm up to them. It is best to not force your pet to engage, but rather allow him to do so on his own.
When you do your decorating, consider some of the dangers of certain items. Tinsel and ribbon are very tempting for cats to play with. Unfortunately, they can sometimes swallow a piece that gets hung up in the intestines. Within a short period of time, just days, it can cause serious and life-threatening damage. Treatment is surgical removal as soon as possible. It’s no fun having your pet spending the holidays stuck in the hospital. Pets can also swallow the hooks that are used to hang ornaments from the tree or even the ornaments themselves. It is a good idea to keep track of them.
Lots of time is spent in the kitchen during this time of year, so remember that onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and chocolate are toxic. Also be careful to dispose of that turkey carcass where your pet cannot access it. Another item people sometimes forget about is alcohol. Pets will sometimes sample half-empty glasses left out on tables and for a small animal, this can cause toxicity rather quickly.
Christmas trees and holly are not toxic but mistletoe is. When it dries, the berries will sometimes fall onto the floor and can be eaten. Poinsettias get overrated — they are technically poisonous, but rarely do they cause more than mild vomiting or diarrhea. Potpourri can be quite toxic to cats, who seem to have a propensity of nibbling on it. In addition, if you like to burn candles, be mindful to keep them out of reach of your pets, as they can singe their whiskers, but more importantly, they can knock them over and start a fire. There is also danger of chewing extension cords, so these should be hidden if at all possible.
One last note — if you are planning for that Christmas puppy or kitten, please wait until after the holidays. Wrap up a colorful collar and leash or a selection of toys with a photo if you have picked your new family member already. Wait until things have calmed down and you have the time to devote to making your four-legged friend a part of your family.
All of us at Blairstown Animal Hospital wish you a happy and healthy holiday!