Preventive Measures Can Save Pets
The holidays are a festive time for us and our pets. However, due to ongoing activities and constant distractions, we can easily overlook potential dangers to our four-legged family members.
Take preventive measures to protect your pets this holiday season. Being aware of these top five dangers could save you a trip to the veterinary emergency room.
1. Holiday Tinsel and Ornaments
Tinsel, while not toxic, is very attractive to pets, particularly cats. The shiny, dangling decoration reflects light and can move in the slightest draft — appearing to come alive to watchful critters.
The problem with tinsel is that once it’s consumed, it can cause serious injury to your pet. If not caught in time, this foreign body ingestion could actually be fatal as it twists and bunches inside your pet’s intestines. Immediate veterinary care is required.
In addition, bright and colorful tree ornaments can attract your pet’s curiosity. Place glass, aluminum and paper ornaments higher up on the tree. Pets can chew and swallow these fragile objects and not only can broken pieces form sharp edges that may lacerate your pet’s mouth, throat and intestines, they could also create a choking hazard.
2. Holiday Lighting and Candles
Twinkling, shiny and dangling holiday lights — such as the icicle, netting, garland, curtain, rope and candle varietal — may be another source of danger to your curious pets.
Got a pet that likes to chew? Electrical shock may occur when a pet chomps down on an electrical cord, causing tongue lacerations and possible death. Check your holiday lights for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution.
If you have candles on display, place them in a hard-to-reach spot so that your pets can not access them. Not only can pets seriously burn themselves, but knocking over candles creates a fire hazard and may leave a trail of hot wax that will easily burn the pads of paws and more.
3. Gift Wrap Ribbon
You may be tempted to fashion your pet with a decorative ribbon “collar” but beware that this could become a choking hazard.
Also, it’s best to quickly discard ribbons and bows wrapped around holiday gifts so that your curious companions won’t be enticed to chew or swallow them. Ingested ribbon can cause a choking hazard and ultimately twist throughout the intestines, leading to emergency surgery and even death.
4. Food Hazards
Festive events often mean edible treats — and lots of them. Unfortunately, some of the most popular holiday goodies, such as chocolate, bones and nuts, can be extremely toxic or fatal to pets.
- Different types of chocolate contain various levels of fat, caffeine and the substances methylxanthines. In general, the darker and richer the chocolate (i.e., baker’s chocolate), the higher the risk of toxicity. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, dogs might experience vomiting, diarrhea, urination, hyperactivity, heart arrhythmias, tremors and seizures.
- Fat trimmings and bones are dangerous for dogs. Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, may cause pancreatitis. And, although it seems natural to give a dog a bone, a dog can choke on it. Bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog’s digestive system.
- Abundant in many cookies and candies, and certain nuts should not be given to pets. Almonds, non-moldy walnuts and pistachios can cause an upset stomach or an obstruction of your dog’s throat and/or intestinal tract. Macadamia nuts and moldy walnuts can be toxic, causing seizures or neurological signs. Lethargy, vomiting and loss of muscle control are among the effects of nut ingestion.
Keep your pet on her regular diet and caution visitors against giving your pet special treats or table scraps.
5. Toxic Holiday Plants
They may be pretty, but some holiday plants are poisonous—even deadly. As little as a single leaf from any lily variety is lethal to cats. Others to avoid:
- Christmas tree pine needles can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling and posterior weakness.
- Holly, commonly found during the Christmas season, can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
- Mistletoe, another Christmas plant, can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behavior, hallucinations and death when ingested.
- Poinsettias can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometimes vomiting.
Taking precautions with pets during these festive times can help ensure that you and your family will enjoy a happy — and healthy — holiday season!
Free ranging felines usually take care of themselves by scavenging and hunting for their meals while also depending on the kindnesses of cat lovers, but things can get a lot chancier when the weather turns frigid.
Help Give Community Cats Shelter
Cats don’t need a lot of space, just a space that is large enough for them to stand, and move about, and stay safe from the harshest outdoor elements. When the weather is at its coldest, the cats will be relying on each other for warmth, and will create their own tight spaces within their shelter. With that in mind, you can use whatever space and materials available to you to create a small haven. Use of mylar in your shelter will help to reflect body heat and keep them warm. When creating the entry opening into the shelter, keep in mind that the opening should only be large enough to allow a cat to enter, so that as much of the wind and snow stay outside of the shelter as possible and the interior of the shelter remains dry. If space allows, you can create an awning or plastic “curtain” to shield the entry. Plastic sheeting or heavy garbage bags are quick and inexpensive options for this. If it is not possible to cover the opening, you can try placing the shelter close to a wall, with the entry facing the wall.
Give outdoor cats food and water
If you can do so without compromising the privacy and security of the shelter, place food and water near the shelter so the cats won’t have to travel far. One way to protect food and water is to place two shelters—doorways facing each other—two feet apart. Then create a canopy between them by securing a wide board from one roof to the other. Then put the food and water under the canopy. What you put food and water in can make a difference. A thick plastic water container that’s deep and wide is better-insulated than a thin plastic or ceramic container. A solar-heated water bowl can prevent or delay water and canned food from freezing. If shelters are well-insulated, you can put bowls of dry or moist food inside them, far from the doorway. Even if the moist food freezes, the cats’ body heat will defrost it when they hunker down in their shelter. Don’t put water bowls inside the shelter. Water is easily spilled, and a wet shelter will feel more like a refrigerator than a warm haven.