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Holiday precautions for pets

The last thing any pet owner wants to do on Thanksgiving or Christmas is rush their pet to the animal emergency room! But, the truth is that many pets are injured or poisoned during these holidays, so how can you make sure your holiday doesn’t end in disaster?

Tom Dock of Noah’s Animal Hospital has the answers.

During the holidays, most animal-related ER visits are due to eating something inappropriate. Some foods cause upset stomachs, some are poisonous, and some can cause life-threatening obstructions.

We know that 60% of us will share our holiday meals with our pets, but you should follow a few basic guidelines.

A small amount of white turkey is an acceptable treat but definitely avoid the turkey skin and the turkey bones!  The skin is often fatty and can cause pets to develop pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pet’s pancreas.

Poultry bones, especially cooked, have the potential to both break off and cause a perforation of the digestive tract or, if large amounts are consumed, could cause an obstruction.

Don’t forget that raw bread dough or pizza dough can be problematic. The yeast and sugar in the dough will actually ferment in the stomach and produce alcohol. 

Likewise, homemade playdough or dough for making ornaments may have excessive levels of salt. This can lead to heart problems, seizures, or fluid accumulation on the abdomen (ascites).

Other foods to avoid include grapes and raisins, excessively salty foods, foods flavored with onion or garlic powder, desserts and sweets containing Xylitol, and chocolates.  Of course, alcohol and pets should never mix!

All leftovers should be secured behind a pet-proof door.

Remember, keep your trash can secure.  Many items used in the meal preparation and then thrown away can be dangerous. A turkey string, foil wrappers, etc may smell like food and be eaten by a curious pet.

Decorative plants are also a source of danger. Mistletoe and holly can cause vomiting and lilies are often deadly to cats. Poinsettias, despite their reputation, are not deadly and often cause little more than mild stomach upset.

Some holiday decorations are also dangerous. Ribbons and tinsel are especially attractive and hazardous to cats. Keep an eye on electrical cords to ensure puppies and kittens don’t chew on them.

During family gatherings, it might be best to keep pets confined if they are overly anxious. Also, monitor people going in and out of the front door.  Pets might take advantage and try to escape.

Keep your veterinarian’s phone number and the local animal emergency hospital handy. A quick call to either of them can give you life-saving advice or even help you avoid a trip to the ER.

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