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Cats and Dogs, Critter Chatter, Healthcare, Safety

CRITTER CHATTER: Spending the Holidays with Pets

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog

critter chatter holidays with pets, grey striped cat with christmas lights

The holiday season is a time for parties, traveling, spending extra moments with friends and family and eating (usually too much). As you prepare for the upcoming holidays and special festivities, it’s important to keep your pets’ health and safety in mind.

If you deck the halls with seasonal houseplants and decorations, be aware of some unique hazards.

Home Hazards

  • Christmas trees are a variety of spruce, fir, and pine. Ingestion of tree needles can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, resulting in drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. Preservatives added to tree water can be mildly irritating to the GI tract as well as serve as a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Make sure the tree is properly secured to keep curious cats or energetic dogs from tipping it over.
  • While poinsettias and Christmas trees are generally safe for pets, holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, daffodils, and lilies can be quite toxic. Symptoms of illness from ingesting these plants include vomiting and diarrhea, excessive drooling and intestinal pain.
  • Tinsel and ornaments offer eye-catching sparkle and gaiety but can be quite attractive to inquisitive dogs and cats. Swallowing tinsel or broken ornaments can lead to intestinal obstructions and expensive surgery.
  • Electrical wires can deliver a potentially lethal shock, and a chewed battery can cause a burn to the mouth or esophagus.

Be aware of the dangers of holiday foods

  • Avoid people foods such as chocolate, turkey skin, and fatty table scraps that could be hazardous or even life-threatening to pets.

  • Never feed turkey bones to dogs or cats and be sure to secure garbage can lids.

  • Don’t leave alcoholic drinks unattended. The consequences of “slurping by pets” can be life-threatening.

Make holiday gatherings enjoyable for everyone, especially your pets.

  • Ensure that holiday parties and rambunctious guests don’t cause emotional distress in pets, especially cats.
  • Try and keep up normal routines, including feeding amounts and exercise times.
  • Provide your pet a special place of their own away from the festivities and offer ample food and fresh water.
  • Avoid loud noises, such as fireworks or discharging firearms near pets.

Prepare for travel or boarding

  • Bring along your pet’s regular food, treats, and bedding.
  • A seat belt designed specifically for pets is important whenever your dog is in the car.
  • Watch for any unusual ailments that could arise.
  • Nutritional supplements containing tryptophan or theanine help reduce stress and anxiety.

Holidays are fun, exhilarating… and fattening for us humans. They are made all the more special by including our pets in the festivities, especially if you are prepared so that they can be safe and relaxed. Be jolly. Be joyous. Be kind to all living things.

a vet and his dogABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Brown holds a Doctorate Degree in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of California at Davis, a Master of Science Degree in Animal Science and Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Physiology from the University of California.  Following discharge from the Air Force as a Captain, he owned and operated the largest veterinary hospital on Cape Cod for almost twenty years. Brown is the past President of the Yavapai Humane Society Board of Directors, Branding Committee Chairman for National Animal Supplement Council and member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  He writes and lectures frequently on the benefits of natural and organic foods and supplements for animals and lives with his wife and a Golden Doodle named Charlotte.

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