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Be Thankful for Pets

but be Careful

During the Holiday Season

Fall is here and the Holiday season (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s) is upon us and is also a time for feasts, family and friends.  But put the family pet into the middle of that mix, and you may just be asking for trouble. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Kennel Association offers the following tips to pet owners to keep this American holiday safe for four-legged guests:

Your holiday feast is for people – not pets.  Table scraps may seem like a fun way to include your pet in the holiday, but many foods are poisonous to pets, including onions, garlic, raisins and grapes. AVMA’s brochure and video offer a complete list of foods and household items that are dangerous or poisonous to pets. If you believe your pet has been poisoned, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately.

  • A turkey carcass left in an open trash container or one that’s easily opened could prove deadly if the family pet finds it.  A pet that “discovers” the carcass can quickly eat so much that it causes a condition called pancreatitis, which is extremely dangerous and can cause death fairly quickly.  If you suspect this has happened, contact your veterinarian immediately.  Dispose of turkey carcasses in a covered, tightly secured container along with anything used to wrap or tie the meat and any bones left on plates. These are also hazards and can be very tempting for your pets.
  • Desserts and pets don’t mix.  Most people understand that chocolate is poisonous to pets, and that the darker it is the more deadly it is, but an artificial sweetener called Xylitol has also been shown to be just as deadly to dogs.  Xylitol is a common sweetener used in baked goods.   So play it safe and don’t share your dessert with Fido or Fluffy.
  • Want to treat your pet on Thanksgiving? Buy a treat that is made just for them.  You can purchase something from your veterinarian or a local pet food store. Make sure the pet treat is not a part of any recall and/or doesn’t contain ingredients of questionable origin. Your pet will enjoy the treat just as much, and chances are you won’t spend the holiday at the emergency clinic.
  • For some pets, houseguests can be scary.  Some pets are shy or excitable around new people. If you know your dog or cat can be overwhelmed when people come over, put them in another room or a crate so they’re out of the frenzy and feel safe. You might even want to consider boarding them to remove them completely from this upsetting situation.  If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, talk  your veterinarian about possible solutions to this common problem. If they are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely when your houseguests are entering or leaving to make sure your four-legged family member doesn’t make a break for it out the door and become lost.

  • Christmas tree and home decorations can be dangerous. As you decorate your tree and home, remember to keep them up and away from your pets.  Some decorations look good enough to eat, and pets may decide to have a taste.  Depending on the flower or decoration, this can result in stomach upset or worse. Pine cones and needles, if consumed by a pet, can cause an intestinal blockage or even perforate the animal’s intestine.
  • Fire, kids and pets make a bad combination.  Dinner by candlelight can provide an elegant atmosphere for a holiday meal.  And what isn’t cozy about having a fire in the fireplace when guests arrive? But where there’s a flame, there’s the opportunity for disaster.  Make sure you’re careful to keep children and pets away from any open flame or fire. And if you’re not sure you can ensure their safety in the holiday commotion, use battery operated candles and forget the fire in the fireplace.  No amount of elegance or cozy will make up for an injured loved one or a house that’s burnt to the ground.
  • Chocolate – This is one of the top ingestion issues in dogs. Depending on the amount ingested and the type of chocolate, there will be clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, and excitation along with an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and even seizures with significant ingestions. Keep in mind that the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous the ingestion. There's also a worry about risks with pancreatitis with ingestions of this type of food. Signs of pancreatitis may not be evident initially but can include a decrease in appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and potential organ damage.
  • Raisins – Many people try to provide healthier options for Tick-or-Treaters by handing out a single-serving box of raisins. These are healthy for humans, but can be extremely poisonous to pets. Grapes and raisins can result in renal failure and any ingestion is considered potentially toxic and is a true emergency.

(Read more information about Flea & Tick Safety as well as Heartworm Prevention on our Additional Topics Page.)

The Best Treatment is Prevention!  Year-round prevention is the best!


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