It’s holiday time again and of course you want to include your furry and feathered friends in the festivities; so as you celebrate this year, we offer some tips to help keep your four legged (or two legged!) pals safe, healthy and happy to enjoy the season with you.
If you are putting up a tree, securely anchor it so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset, from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should they decide to sneak a sip.
Cats love sparkly, light-catching tinsel “toys” that are easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel. Giving your cat ribbons or yarn as toys can cause the same problems.
Birds as well are naturally attracted to things that glitter, shine, sparkle, and blink. Make sure you keep your bird away from any lights or decorations. A solid bite to a wire or a light bulb can pose a risk of burns and electrocution. Fragile glass ornaments along with their sharp wire hangers can cause cuts, scratches, and puncture wounds. Be wary of ribbons, bows, and gift wrap too. Holiday gift wrapping materials are brightly colored and shiny, which, like the ornaments, makes them a beacon for curious beaks. Many owners might think that it’s okay to let their birds play with and shred these papers and bows, but the inks used to print them could potentially be toxic. Additionally, some ribbons and bows have the ability to get caught around your bird’s neck, legs, or toes. This can cause serious injury, so it’s important that your bird be kept away from all the pretty presents.
By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but make sure you are saving the table scraps for the garbage disposal. Feeding your pet holiday foods that are rich and fatty or spicy can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and acute pancreatitis which can be quite serious and will require immediate attention by our staff at Oak Tree Veterinary Hospital or an after hours emergency hospital. Stray away from feeding your fuzzy buddies any turkey, chicken or other animal bones. As your pet chews these, they may bite off sharp pieces that can perforate or become obstructed in the intestines, and let’s not forget the choking hazard here either! Save some healthy pet only treats for the little beggars to satisfy their holiday cravings!
“Stop chewing on the plants!” is a phrase commonly used in my household, and some holiday specific plants can be toxic as well. Holly, when ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Poinsettias are mildly toxic to cats. The milky sap can cause irritation of the mouth and digestive tract. A cat that has consumed portions of a poinsettia may experience excessive salivation and vomiting due to irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
Of course it should go without saying, but it must be; don’t leave burning candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!
Pay attention to stress levels. Birds can get stressed pretty easily, and the holidays can make it worse by exposing them to sights, sounds, and people that they are not accustomed to. Consider leaving your bird caged in a quiet, comfortable, and secure area of your home until the party winds down. This will help make sure that your celebration does not cause undue stress or discomfort for your feathered friend.
Dogs and cats can easily get stressed as well when their routine has changed or there is much more activity in the home than normal. Give your pet their own quiet space to retreat to; complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pooches and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their crate or in a separate room away from the hubbub. Try to keep your pets routine as close to normal as possible and make sure to find some quality time for them during the hustle and bustle.
With all the stress that can be involved with the holidays (like your Mother In-Law’s critiquing of your cooking!) bearing these tips in mind will help keep your best friends safe and give you one less thing to worry about this year!
On behalf of us all at Oak Tree Veterinary Hospital, we wish you and your pets a safe and happy holiday season!