Foods and Beverages
Make sure your guests know not to give your pets table scraps, and stick to your their regular feeding routine. Common food items that are pet hazards include bones, grapes, raisins and chocolate. Bones are a choking hazard, while chocolate, grapes and raisins contain substances that are toxic and potentially deadly to dogs. Keep in mind that digestive problems can be caused by spicy foods, and fatty foods aren't healthy for your pets to eat. If you'll be having kids over as guests, try to get to any food that's accidentally dropped before your pets do. Also, ingesting alcohol can be deadly for your pets, so keep all alcoholic beverages well out of their reach.
Christmas lights are beautiful, but they can cause serious problems for pets that chew on them. Put all wires out of reach so your pet does not receive a dangerous electrical shock or burn. If you like to light candles during the holidays, keep them on a safe and stable surface that your pets can't get to, and never leave them burning unattended when you have pets around.
Live Christmas trees can be hazardous to your pet for a few different reasons. If they are not properly anchored in their stand, they can fall over onto your pets. Drinking the standing water in the tree stand can make your pet get sick. Bacteria in the water can cause diarrhea or an upset stomach when ingested. Keep breakable ornaments on the higher branches of your tree, so your pets aren't at risk of cutting themselves on broken pieces if they knock one down. Also, skip the tinsel altogether, especially if you have a cat. Tinsel can cause an obstruction in the digestive tract if your cat ends up swallowing a piece.
Common holiday plants, such as mistletoe and holly can be toxic to dogs. When in doubt, play it safe and stick with artificial holiday plants and flowers.
Keep your pets' safety in mind when choosing gifts for them. To prevent choking, avoid buying flimsy toys with squeakers inside, especially for dogs that like to chew things up. Puzzle toys are much sturdier and can be filled with treats. Not only are these safer, they keep your dog’s brain busy for hours! Buy your cat a stuffed toy to bat around or a larger ball to chase. Skip toys that have a lot of strings, which can become gastrointestinal obstruction if swallowed.
Avoid using chocolate decorations, candy canes or ribbon on the outside of the packaging for friends and family members where pets may have access to the wrapped gifts. Take care in where you place wrapped foodstuffs for the holidays. Dogs can smell candies and chocolates through wrapping paper and may ingest the packaging to get to the food inside.
What to Do
Even though you've taken every precaution possible to avoid pet hazards, you suspect that your dog or cat has managed to ingest a toxic substance. What should you do? First of all stay calm. If possible gather the label from the product listing its ingredients, or a sample of the substance you think your pet might have swallowed. This will help the veterinarian determine if your pet is at risk and what type of treatment should be used. Call your veterinarian or local animal hospital, and give them as much information as you can on what you think your pet ate and if he's having any health issues. If your pet becomes unconscious, has trouble breathing or has seizures, bring him to an emergency animal clinic immediately.
Wishing safe and happy holidays and looking forward to seeing you in 2016!
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