Winter & Holiday Safety Tips

With the Holiday season upon us and the cold weather arriving, here are some safety tips for you and your pet.

Holiday Plants

  • Mistletoe-If ingested can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiac issues
  • Poinsettias-may cause vomiting and diarrhea
  • Lilies-acute kidney failure in cats
  • Holly-vomiting, diarrhea and nausea
  • Christmas Trees-make sure they are properly anchored so it doesn’t fall over if an adventurous pet goes exploring.

Decorations

  • Tinsel-kitties love its magical sparkle and can’t resist chewing on it. If ingested, tinsel can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction, which can become life threatening and require surgery.  Clinical signs of an obstruction can include, but are not limited to vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, and dehydration.  These signs warrant immediate veterinary attention.
  • Candles-curious pets can knock these over. This can lead to a fire in your home.  Pets have also been known to burn themselves when overly curious about candles.
  • Wires and Batteries-both of these things pose a risk to your pet. If a pet bites into a wire it can cause an electrical burn in their mouth.  Chewing on batteries can lead to chemical burns and batteries can be very dangerous if ingested.  Do not wait to take your pet to the vet if they chew a wire or chew/ingest a battery.
  • Ornaments-pose a risk if broken or ingested. A pet may cut themselves on a broken ornament or could possibly have complications from ingesting an ornament (especially if the hook is attached).

Food

  • Xylitol-avoid sugar free treats and gum and check ingredients carefully. Xylitol can cause severe low blood sugar and lead to death.  If your pet ingests a product with xylitol call your veterinarian right away.
  • People food-rich food and foods high in fat can cause your pet to have vomiting and diarrhea. These foods can also cause your pet to develop pancreatitis, which is when their pancreas becomes inflamed from the rich and fatty food and can lead to them needing to be hospitalized for supportive care.  Beware of bones in food as well since they can be ingested and cause an obstruction.  Don’t forget chocolate, raisins, and macadamia nuts are also toxic to your pet.
  • Alcohol-if ingested by your pet it can cause them to become weak, ill and possibly go into a coma which can lead to death.

Winter Safety Tips

  • Keep your pet warm. If it’s below 20 degrees and your pet has a thin hair coat, consider putting a coat on him or her.  If the coat has a belly strap, make sure it is out of the way on male dogs when they urinate.
  • Salt is mildly toxic to dogs. More importantly, it’s a skin irritant and can cause GI upset if directly ingested.  Consider using pet friendly ice melting products around your home and wiping your pet’s paws off with a damp cloth when they come inside from a walk.
  • Frostbite can occur when the temperature is below 20 degrees or if there is a significant windchill. The ears, toes and tail tip are the most vulnerable areas.  Clinical signs of frostbite include redness, swelling, coldness to the touch, and sloughing of the tissue.  If you notice these clinical signs, immediately bring your pet inside and start slow rewarming and contact your veterinarian.

If at any point you are concerned that your pet may have injured themselves or ingested something they shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian.  Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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