Thursday, 17 November 2011

Christmas Hazards for Pets

Yup, it's that dreaded time of year again. Christmas.

I'm a total bah humbug person but, given my day job, I thought I'd write a post about the hazards of christmas to your pet.

Christmas Trees
Yes, the simple christmas tree ... can very easily be pulled down by a curious cat or a hyperactive dog. Please make sure your tree is secured or cordoned off so your playful puppy or climbing kitty cannot be harmed. Also, if you have a real tree, make sure you clean the pine needles up regularly. They're not overly dangerous but they could stick in delicate unshod little paws and would be very uncomfortable.

Again, very easy for a cat or dog to get tangled in them or chew on them. Make sure they are attached securely and try and cover the cables so they can't be spied by curious eyes.

Tinsel & Ribbon
This stuff can be very dangerous if swallowed. If you're pet is lucky, it could just pass out with no damage. The unlucky ones could end up needing surgery to remove the offending article and also some damaged bowels. Keep everything out of the way from your pets.

Anyone that's ever dropped one of these while decorating know how easily they shatter. Just be careful with glass baubles if you have a pet, try and not give your pet the chance to knock any off the tree.

Holly leaves and berries can be toxic to pets and will cause some gastric upset. Best not to give your pet the chance to eat any.

Mistletoe, same as holly, can cause some gastric upset and it can also cause some heart problems. So, again, better to not give your pets the chance to eat any.

While not toxic to pets, it can cause some irritation of the mouth, as well as excess salivation and possibly some vomiting. Again, as with most of the things on here, try and avoid your pet getting a hold of it.

A relatively new turn up in the Veterinary field, lilies are extremely toxic to cats. A simple brush up against it leaving pollen on the cat's coat can cause kidney failure. Not just a christmas thing but a lot of flower arrangements will have lilies in them. If you are a cat owner, you should try and avoid lilies completely.

Again, not primarily a christmas thing but it is a time of year where people tend to have a lot of batteries around for toys and decorations. Obviously batteries, if chewed, can cause a lot of damage so make sure batteries are well hidden from your pets.

Most people know about this by now but I thought I'd put it in here anyway. Chocolate contains a chemical called Theobromine which is toxic to pets. The general rule is: the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine so the less is needed to be toxic. Try and keep all chocolate away from pets, so don't place chocolate beneath the tree and try not to use chocolate hanging decorations.

Raisins, Grapes & Currants
Not as many people know about this, but grapes, raisins & currants can cause kidney failure in dogs if ingested. Again, the best course is to make sure your dog can't access these.

Turkey BONES
No, turkey's aren't toxic to pets but the bones can cause a lot of damage if ingested. Bird bones are hollow and shatter very easily so if a dog or cat swallows a bone, they can cause a lot of damage to their digestive tract. They can scratch and cut on there way down and could puncture through the intestines, this would require fairly major surgery. So it's just better to make sure your turkey carcass is disposed of properly and don't give your pets a chance to get at it.

Another thing to remember at this time of year is a chemical called Xylitol. It's an artificial sweetener and can be found in a lot of chewing gums and diet sweets. This is, again, fairly new to us in the Veterinary world but it can cause a lot of problems if ingested. And it doesn't need to be a lot. So, like everything else, try and make sure your pet doesn't get a chance to eat it.

When you look at this list, it seems like christmas is a very dangerous time of year, but if you think of all these things as you're decorating and "hiding" (not always from pets) presents, you'll hopefully be hazard free.

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