The holiday season is an exciting time of year for human culture, and with our festive celebrations come an abundance of temptation and potential dangers to our pets. Our team at Lake Road Animal Hospital would like to share a few pet proofing tips to ensure your holidays stay safe, happy, and healthy.

5. Tree Water and Melting Salt Chemicals

Tree water can contain fertilizers and water additives that may cause stomach upset and vomiting. Stagnant water under your holiday tree is a perfect place for bacteria to procreate and if ingested, could cause nausea and diarrhea. Be sure to check the label before adding preservation chemicals to your tree water. Ice melts and rock salt are commonly used to clear ice from sidewalks and other icy surfaces. These salts contain sodium chloride or calcium chloride and can be harmful to paws and toxic if ingested. Pet safe ice melt products are an option. You can also clean your dog’s paws or use pet boots if you expect possible exposure.

4. Lighting and Candles

Inspect all electrical cords for evidence of chewing or fraying and utilize grounded three-prong extension cords for the safest power option. Keep lit candles in holders out of reach and monitor pets and small children. Candles, oil warmers, and fireplaces are not only a potential danger to your pets but also a fire hazard if left unattended.

3. Plant Toxicity

If you have a cat, opting for seasonal silk or plastic arrangements may be the way to go. A single leaf ingested from any lily varietal is lethal to the feline species. Holly, when ingested, can cause nausea, intense vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea for both dogs and cats. Mistletoe can cause cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) issues, gastrointestinal (stomach and intestine) upset, difficulty breathing, erratic behavior, hallucinations, collapse, and depression. Pine needles can produce oral irritation, vomiting, lethargy, and posterior (back and hind end) weakness. Poinsettias can also produce vomiting and irritation of the mouth and stomach.

You can find a full list of toxic and nontoxic plants, here.

2.Tinsel, Ornaments, and Décor

Tinsel is particularly enticing to cats. While non-toxic, if tinsel is ingested, it can become obstructed and twisted inside the stomach and intestines, requiring immediate emergency care. Ornaments and decorations can frequently resemble your pet’s favorite types of toys. Keep fragile decorations hung out of reach and securely anchored (perhaps with twist or small cable ties) to minimize risks of injury, choking hazards, and intestinal obstruction.

1. Diet and Food Hazards

We recommended continuing with your pet’s normal diet as much as possible to avoid stomach upset and pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas). Politely instruct guests to resist giving pets table food and unapproved treats, keep trash can lids tightly closed, and unattended plates and drinks out of reach.

Alcohol, coffee (especially beans or grounds), chocolatenutmeg, foods containing the artificial sweetener xylitolyeastbonesfat trimmingsnutsapple seeds and stemsapricotscherriespeaches, plum pits and stems, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic (and others of the allium family), can range from potentially toxic to even fatal to pets. Chocolate contains various levels of caffeine, fat, methylxanthines, and theobromine (chemicals in chocolate that are dangerous to dogs). Toxicity levels depend on the amount and type of chocolate ingested. The lethal dose is 50 to 100 mg of theobromine per pound of body weight. Generally, the darker the chocolate, the higher levels of theobromine it contains. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning will appear in 1 to 4 hours after ingestion and may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, muscle spasms, seizures, coma, increased thirst, and even death from abnormal heart rate.

As always, if poisoning is suspected, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

See more human foods to avoid, here.

Lastly, we can’t neglect the mention of our sweet but wildly inappropriate uncle; the one who insists on rescuing poor Fluffy from deprivation by sneaking him leftover bones and fat trimmings. Though he means well and we appreciate his willingness to “reuse and recycle”, caution him that bones can cause choking, dental fractures, and intestinal obstruction. Bones can also splinter off into small, razor sharp fragments causing potential perforation or piercing of your pet’s digestive system. Fat trimmings and fatty foods can cause not only the obvious weight gain but also stomach upset and pancreatitis. Interactive play is a great solution for sympathetic relatives. Offer interactive toys, safe treats in moderation, or a pet and play session. We also urge to keep in mind our pets are not the entertainment for the evening, especially if half the guest list consists of small children that may or may not behave appropriately towards animals. Depending on the personality, temperament, and stress level of your dog or cat, you may want to consider some pets will be more comfortable in a quiet room of their own or a trusted boarding kennel. Ultimately, you know and love your pets more than anyone and it is up to you to make that decision.

We hope these preventative measures will assist in making this season a stress free and enjoyable time for you and your four-legged family. Wishing you a safe and Happy Holiday, from all of us at Lake Road Animal Hospital & Kennel.

Written by Ashlee Bischoff, ERA | Kennel Manager | Social Media Manager

Other sources for holiday tips and information:

Cold Weather Pet Tips

Antifreeze Poisoning Prevention

Gifts for Pet Owners

Pets as Gifts?

Pet Insurance

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