Pet Dangers during the Holidays

Fourth of July

It’s important to be extra careful with your dog this weekend as you celebrate the 4th of July holiday. Unfortunately, this weekend is one of our busiest times at Town & Country Veterinary Clinic. Our expert staff wants all pet owners to keep these things in mind as they celebrate the holiday:

  • Trips to the Park
    With so many people and pets enjoying limited spaces, it’s important to keep control of them, either by leash or command. Keep a close eye on your dogs, and keep them within view at all times. Sniffing is an acceptable activity, but don’t allow them to eat or drink anything in a public area.
  • Fireworks Noise
    Explosions are extremely frightening for house pets. Keep pets inside in a quiet, dark area with limited access to windows or other potential hazards. A radio or fan can provide soothing background noise to drown out the sound of fireworks outside. If you know that your pet’s nerves become extremely frazzled during this holiday, contact your veterinarian ahead of time to see if he or she recommends sedating them. Make sure your pets have proper identification in the form of ID tags or microchips, so if they escape, you can be quickly contacted when they are found.
  • Fireworks Ingestion
    Fireworks in shiny packages can look like an appetizing snack and, if eaten, can be poisonous to animals. And although the risk is usually small, animals can be burned from falling fireworks and sparklers. Keep both used and unused fireworks away from pets.
  • Holiday Food
    It may be tempting to allow pets to snack alongside you at your 4th of July picnic, but “holiday food” can wreak havoc on a dog’s system. Keep fatty, sugary foods and alcoholic drinks away from prying noses.

Halloween

Before and after Halloween:

  • Keep all candy out of reach, not just chocolate! A lot of people know chocolate is dangerous to dogs, but so are other candies. Sugar can cause nasty gastrointestinal upset. Lollipop sticks and plastic parts and wrappers can cause intestinal obstruction and potentially rupture the intestines:
    That’s a life-threatening emergency!
  • Keep candles away from tails and toes.
  • Keep decorative light strands away from curious puppies and kitties. One chewing session can be dangerous and possibly deadly.

Halloween night:

  • Keep your pets locked indoors and away from trick-or-treaters. Dogs especially may feel that their territory is being invaded by the constant onslaught of visitors. Keeping your dog in a secluded area of the house will help him stay calm and keep him from growling or possibly biting your visiting ghouls and goblins. It will also keep your pet from being able to dart outdoors.
  • Don’t take your dog along trick or treating. Even typically calm dogs may get spooked by excited, shrill voices and strange costumes.
  • Make sure your dog has current, accurate & readable identification tags. If you have recently changed your address or phone number, update the ID immediately. If you haven’t yet, take this opportunity to have your pet micro-chipped with a Home Again chip or an AVID chip. Your vet can help you with this easy, painless procedure.
  • If you have a black cat, be especially careful about keeping it indoors on Halloween. Some people are superstitious about black cats and may try to scare or harm them.

Costumes are typically more fun for humans than animals:

  • An animal in a costume should NEVER be left alone and unsupervised. Some pets, if left alone in costume, may chew it up and ingest it. This could cause intestinal obstruction.
  • If the costumed pet escapes or is frightened away, the costume could get caught on trees, fences, or bushes, and your pet could get hurt.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend is always a busy time for doctors at Town & Country Veterinary Clinic. Often, animals get sick because of distracted or careless pet owners on Thanksgiving Day and the days that follow. Most of the problems are gastrointestinal and can be prevented.

Keep away from your pets:

  • Turkey Bones (They are hollow and splinter easily into sharp pieces. The splinters can lodge in your pet’s throat or intestine or cause punctures to the intestinal tract and create blockages)
  • Turkey Carcasses (Parts may be undercooked and infected with Salmonella)
  • Fatty Meats & Gravy
  • Baked Goods
  • Garbage containing any leftovers (Don’t forget your outside garbage)

Alternative ways to celebrate:

  • Add a teaspoon of white turkey meat or broth to your pet’s food to share the “Thanksgiving experience” with your animal.
  • Treat pets to goodies and gifts made especially for them.
  • Spoil them with an extra hour of brushing or a quiet walk; both of you will appreciate the reprieve from noise and relatives!

Holiday Dangers

Shiny tantalizing strings of tinsel are enticing to cats, and they often pull the silver stuff off the tree by the mouthful. Once ingested, it can become entangled in the cat’s intestines and can create a life threatening obstruction. It is best to avoid tinsel altogether if you have pets in your house.

Mistletoe is a small evergreen plant with white berries that is traditionally hung around the house in hopes of inducing festive “smooching”. All parts of the plant are toxic and as few as three berries can be lethal to a child. It is best not to have mistletoe in a home with pets or children. If it is a “must have” item for holiday tradition, find a plastic replica or seal the living plant in plastic and tack it firmly in place. Remove it as soon as possible when its desired purpose has been achieved.

With more and more of our Christmas ornamentation needing to be “plugged in”, electrical cords are in abundance this time of year. Be careful to keep pets, especially puppies and kittens, from chewing on cords. Limit the length of cords, pets’ access to them, and inspect the cords frequently for any signs of fraying.

Keep chocolate away from dogs. Dogs possess a fondness for chocolate; unfortunately, it contains a stimulant harmful to them (in addition to being loaded with fat and sugar). Keep chocolate in cupboards or sealed containers and off shelves, countertops, and coffee tables. Also beware of suspiciously good-smelling wrapped packages under the tree—no thoughtful friend or family member minds being asked if it’s chocolate when it’s for the safety of the family pet.