All posts in Holidays

Safety Tips For The Holidays

Lights, decorations, good food… every year, as we celebrate the holidays, we fill our homes with seasonal cheer for ourselves and our families. However, what may seem beautiful and harmless to us may pose hidden dangers to our pets. Don’t let an emergency spoil the festivities! Below are some common holiday hazards for dogs and cats and ways to prevent them.

DANGEROUS FOODS

The following can be toxic to pets: chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, garlic, onion, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, bread dough, and sugar-free candy and gum containing the artificial sweetener xylitol.

HOLIDAY MEALS

Despite tradition, bones should never be given to pets. Even beef, ham, and other “regular” foods that are not considered toxic can cause illness in pets. If your pet is a moocher, keep a saucer of his regular treats on the table to offer when he asks. He probably won’t know the difference!

GIFTS

Even a pet-safe treat can cause stomach upset if it is new to your pet. Offer only one of these at a time (ideally, separated by a few days). If your pet becomes ill after eating a holiday treat, it will be easier to trace the source and discontinue it. Also, check new toys for sharp edges, pieces that can be chewed off, or other potential hazards.

GREENERY

Hazardous plants include mistletoe, some evergreens (including some types of pine), and holly bushes and berries. Try to keep these plants away from pets, or at least supervise pets when dangerous plants are nearby.

DECORATIONS

Tinsel, tree ornaments, ribbons, string, and garlands are some items that can be dangerous if eaten by pets. Keep these items away from pets — especially when pets are unattended. Don’t forget to cover any electrical cords or keep them out of reach.

FIRE AND CARBON MONOXIDE

Monitor pets near fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, candles, and portable heaters. Also, don’t forget to check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are functioning properly. Space heaters, furnaces, and idling cars (in a garage) can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in pets and humans.

CHRISTMAS TREES

Monitor your pets when they are around your holiday tree. Pets may eat the needles (even from artificial trees) or drink water from the base of the tree, which can be toxic (especially if there are preservatives in it). Keep electrical cords and decorative lights out of reach, too.

In many cases, if your pet has eaten or drunk something toxic, warning signs will include gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Other signs may include tiredness and lack of appetite, especially in cats that have eaten lilies. If your pet shows any of these signs, or if you think he or she has eaten something dangerous but is not showing any signs yet, please call us right away. Treating your pet as soon as possible is essential!

We will be glad to answer any questions you have about your pet’s health. Let’s work together to make sure your entire family has a happy, healthy holiday season!

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HALLOWEEN SAFETY FOR OUR PETS

The fall colors are at there peak today and most of us are looking forward to the  Halloween festivities this weekend, but our pets can truly be “spooked” by all of the noises and costumes.   We hope you have a wonderful time this weekend,  but remember Halloween is a holiday with many potential dangers for our dogs and cats.

First let’s consider the ghost and goblin visits on Halloween eve. The excitement of the day may be too much for even the best-behaved dog.   Constant visitors to the door as well as the spooky sights and sounds may cause some pets to become fearful.  Costumes on people can be scary to pets.   Masks, large hats, and other costume accessories can confuse pets and may even trigger territorial instincts.   It is not unusual for pets to act protective or be fearful of people in costumes, even if they normally are very social with that person.  Your pet could run away and become injured in a variety of ways.  Consider allowing your dog or cat to spend the evening in his own special place inside with special treats, safe and secure from the goblins.  Even if you have a fenced yard, Halloween is definitely not a good night for your dog to be outside without supervision and restraint.  If you can’t keep your cat indoors, considering a boarding facility or your family veterinarian.   Remember, you are responsible for controlling your pet and insuring that he does not bite any of the neighborhood ghosts.

Judging by the pet pictures we get this time of year, many of our clients enjoy dressing their four-legged friends up for the holiday.  Dressing up is fun for everyone, but may not be very fun for our pets.  If your pet tolerates a costume, there are some things to keep in mind.  Your pet must be comfortable at all times.  Avoid any costumes that use rubber bands or anything that might constrict circulation or breathing.  Likewise, avoid costumes with toxic paints or dyes.   Your pet’s costume should be inedible.  If your pet appears uncomfortable in any way, allow him to dress up in his “birthday suit”.

The two biggest concerns for pets during the holiday are injuries and poisonings.  Some Halloween decorations can be unsafe.   Fake cobwebs or anything resembling a string can be tempting to cats, leading to a foreign body obstruction.   Candles inside of pumpkins are easily knocked over, burning your pet or even starting a fire.  Although the threat is probably minimal, many people are concerned about black cats during this time of year.   It might be wise to keep all cats indoors during this holiday.

Keep your pet away from the Halloween candy.   Chocolate can be toxic to pets and even small amounts can cause heart problems and vomiting.  Lollipop sticks and foil wrappers can become lodged in your pet’s digestive tract, causing painful obstructions.  Low carbohydrate, sugar free, diabetic-friendly candy or gum that is sweetened with Xylitol can cause low blood sugar in dogs and has been implicated in liver failure as well.

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Helping Your Pet Celebrate Independence Day

Everyone loves the fun of family and festivities of the July 4th celebrations.  However, your four legged family members may not have the same appreciation of these patriotic displays.  The fear of noises and sounds like fireworks and thunderstorms are known as “noise phobias” and a great number of pets suffer from this condition during the holiday.

Dogs, cats, horses, and even livestock can react to fireworks in ways that could potentially cause injury or even death.  Our clients regularly share stories of their pets shaking uncontrollably and hiding in closets at the first sound of thunder and fireworks.  Some pets may become “fearfully aggressive” due to the loud noises.   Protect your pets from children who may not realize the consequences of waving sparklers or setting off home fireworks.  If you are planning on attending a fireworks celebration, leave your pet at home.

During the upcoming celebrations, keep small pets indoors.   A good idea is to keep the pet in an interior room without windows.  Consider turning on the TV or radio to provide a familiar and comforting distraction.  Avoid leaving pets alone outdoors, even if tethered or in a fenced yard.  It is not uncommon for dogs to escape or injure themselves in a frenzied attempt to escape.
Many animal shelters report increases of “stray” animal intakes after the 4th of July holiday due to the number of pets running away in an attempt to avoid the noise and excitement.  Be sure that your pet has a current ID tag and/or microchip so that you and your pet can be easily reunited in the case he or she runs off.

Desensitization methods are also an option for many pet owners.   By playing a CD that contains noises of thunderstorms, fireworks, and gunshots, many pets can be counter conditioned and may actually begin to remain calm during these events.  Be sure to check out www.soundtherapy4pets.com for examples of desensitization CDs.

Always remember never to punish your pet for his fearful behavior, but don’t reinforce the behavior by trying to sooth your pet with “It’s ok” or similar words.   Paying attention to your pet may positively reinforce the fearful behavior.

Your veterinarian may prescribe tranquilizers or mild sedatives for your pets during this time, but these drugs do have limitations and should not be used on a daily basis.  In addition natural methods, such as pheromone therapy or melatonin are also available.

If you believe any of your pets have a noise phobia, talk with your veterinarian and staff about the best ways to keep your pet safe this holiday.

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