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Pet talk - Dec. 22, 2014

A safe holiday for Fido

Posted: December 21, 2014 1:42 p.m.
Updated: December 22, 2014 1:00 a.m.

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and what better way to prepare for the holidays than including your furry friends in the festivities? However, with all of the hustle and bustle of this busy season, we often forget to adapt our celebrations for the safety of our pets. Here are some ways to keep Fido and Fluffy safe while rockin’ around the Christmas tree.

When it comes to decorating your home, there are a few items to leave behind if you have a curious dog or cat lurking around. Animals are often attracted to the sparkly tinsel and ribbons left lying out, and these can easily obstruct their digestive tract if ingested, often requiring emergency surgery. Make sure to keep these decorations out of reach or out of sight.

“Mistletoe especially can cause vomiting and diarrhea as well as neurologic signs such as seizures,” Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said. “Other holiday plants, such as poinsettias, can also cause vomiting and diarrhea when eaten.”

Holiday candles are another decoration which can make your home feel much more festive, but be sure to put them high enough up where a pet cannot accidentally knock them over. To play it safe, place candles on a stable surface and blow them out before leaving the room.

You’ve heard time and time again to not feed Fido any leftovers, but this can be especially difficult to abide by during the season of sharing and caring. Even when he gives you those puppy dog eyes, remember certain human foods, especially chocolate and other sweets, can be detrimental to his health. If possible, keep pets in another room during mealtime, and make sure there are lids on the trashcans to prevent any sneaky pets from getting a hold of the discarded pie.

“Many pets who are fed leftovers and are not used to them can develop vomiting and diarrhea due to the abrupt change in diet,” Dr. Eckman said. “Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can be very dangerous with signs including vomiting and diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, heart arrhythmias and possibly death depending on how much is eaten.”

If you have a live Christmas tree in your home, make sure not to add fertilizer to the tree water, as it can upset your dog’s or cat’s stomach when drunk. Whether your tree is fake or real, it should be securely anchored to the ground to prevent it from tipping over and falling on a pet, which can cause serious injury.

“Cats in particular like to climb the Christmas tree or chew on the branches,” Dr. Eckman said. Additionally, any glass ornaments should be placed higher up on the tree, leaving the low-lying branches for the less fragile ornaments.

As you celebrate this holiday season, remember to keep the health and safety of your furry companions in mind; an emergency trip to the vet is not on your pet’s Christmas list.

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