Keeping your pets safe during the Holidays
By Capt. Ericka L. Carroll, V.M.D., Chief, Patrick Branch Veterinary Services
/ Published December 08, 2010
Patrick AFB, Fla. -- The holidays are a wonderful time for us to relax and spend time with our families and friends. Here are some tips to keep your pets safe and healthy this holiday season.
Although decorations set a festive mood for all to enjoy, there are potential hazards they can pose to pets. For owners with Christmas trees, make sure your tree is well secured and stable. Pets, especially cats, often will climb Christmas trees causing them to fall over. This can injury your pet as well as ruin your carpet or flooring if excessive water spills. Beware of glass Christmas tree ornaments hanging low on your tree where you pets can knock them off and potentially injure themselves on the cut glass or plastic. Also beware of electric Christmas tree lights. Pets can chew on these cords resulting in electrocution, injuries to their mouths, hearts, and lungs, and is potentially fatal.
Many plants used to decorate homes during the holiday can be toxic to pets. Some of the most common include: poinsettias, lilies, mistletoe, holly, and pine needles. If these plants are used as decorations in your home, they should be kept in an area not accessible by your pet.
Many of the holiday foods and beverages we enjoy can be toxic to our pets. Rich, fatty foods (such as gravy, butter, meats, eggnog) can cause stomach upset and predispose pets to life-threatening pancreatitis or bloating. Bones can splinter and get stuck in pets' mouths, obstruct their throat, or perforate their intestines. Alcoholic beverages should not be given to pets due to the effects on their liver and neurologic system. Ingredients common in holiday desserts such as chocolate, macadamia nuts, raisins, and coffee can be fatal if ingested. Be careful not to leave these foods on coffee tables in reach of pets and be sure that the lid on the trashcan is well secured.
Traveling with Pets
If you are planning to travel with your pet this holiday season plan in advance. For those driving, make sure hotels along your route are pet friendly. Some may charge extra fees, limit the number of pets per room, have weight restrictions, or require a copy of your pet's vaccination record. Remember your pet should never be left alone in a vehicle unattended. For those flying, your pet will need a health certificate within 10days of departure issued by an accredited veterinarian (these are available at the Patrick AFB VTF). Check with your airline about specific requirement and fees.
Pets and Company
With holiday guests coming and going, the front door will be opening and closing more than usual. An open door may be too tempting for some pets to resist. Be sure your pets have collars with identification tags in case of an escape. If your pet does escape, resist the urge to chase and instead encourage him to come back to you by enticing him with a favorite treat. For animals that get very stressed with company, create a haven for them in a room isolated from the crowd.
Other Miscellaneous Holiday Hazards and Tips
Many pets will play with wrapping paper, ribbon, and tape however these can be choking hazards if swallowed. Do not allow your pet to play with these and clean up after gifts to prevent this injury. Never leave lit candles unattended and be sure they are securely anchored so they won't be dislodged by the swat of a paw or tail.