{ PETS }

KEEP YOUR PETS HEALTHY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Five potential threats that could ruin the Happy Holidays for Princess or Buddy.

By Claire Yezbak Fadden

We brighten our homes for the holidays with boughs of holly, strings of lights and inflatable snowmen. Suspecting they can be toxic to pets, we often decide to skip the ruby red or white poinsettias. But, according to Dr. Megan Rector, these traditional holiday flowers don’t pose the most danger to dogs and cats. “Although they contain a milky sap that can irritate your pet’s mouth, the effects are usually mild,” said Rector, an emergency veterinarian. Pet owners should be aware of five other toxic dangers that pose health and safety threats to their cats or dogs this holiday season.

PUP1.) Decorations: Many ordinary decorations like tinsel, glass ornaments, spray-on snow/flocking, foil, plastic shrink-wrap, Styrofoam peanuts and ribbon can be life-threatening if eaten by your pet. Whether lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines, any one of these items can cause a variety of maladies and may land your four-legged friend in the operating room.

2.) Mistletoe: Both the plant and the berries are extremely toxic to pets. The most severe cases can cause low blood pressure, disorientation and even seizures.

3.) Christmas Tree Food/Preservatives: If you have a live tree, prevent dogs or cats from using the tree stand as a drinking bowl. According to Dr. Rector, the sugar-based tree preservatives and tree food/water can harbor dangerous bacteria.

4.) Batteries: Children’s toys use batteries, so be sure to keep all batteries out of reach of your pets. Chewing can cause a toxic leak or even destruction of the metal casings, resulting in acid burns or cuts of the mouth or esophagus. A curious pet can easily gulp down AAA and other smaller-sized batteries, causing internal burns and requiring surgery to remove them.

5.) Potpourri: The spicy aromas wafting from warming potpourri fill the house. But for a pet, exposure to the liquid form can cause irritation and corrosion of the eyes, mouth, throat and esophagus.

Unless your pet vomits up tinsel or an ornament, it’s often difficult to know quickly if your dog or cat has ingested any of these holiday festoons. “Monitoring your pet for vomiting, diarrhea, or evidence of things in the house getting destroyed or disturbed can provide clues,” said Dr. Rector. “Most symptoms will be gastrointestinal-related but also watch for your pet not eating, or being lethargic or unusually inactive. Also, don’t feed your pet any of the festive foods made during the holiday season,” she added. “High fatty foods, meat attached to bones, chocolate and nuts have the potential to cause severe illness in animals.”

So, the best way to prevent Princess or Buddy from getting sick this holiday season is to keep them from having access to your various Christmas trappings. Better yet, get the little ones their own Christmas toys!