Holiday Hazards

‘Tis the season! While you deck your halls, make sure your holiday isn’t marred by an emergency trip to your veterinarian by keeping an eye out for these common holiday hazards.

RIBBONS & TINSEL
These are of special interest to playful cats and kittens who see these materials as toys (or prey) to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing pose no health threats, chewing and swallowing do, as these strings or “linear foreign bodies” can catch in the GI tract, leading to bunching of intestine as the body tries in vain to move the string or ribbon through. This is a life-threatening condition requiring surgery for correction.

ELECTRIC LIGHT CORDS
These are also tempting to cats who like to play with string as well as to puppies who are teething and interested in chewing. If a pet bites through an electrical cord, it could result in burns and electrical shock or create a fire hazard.

CHOCOLATE
Unsweetened baking chocolate carries a much higher dose of the toxin theobromine than does milk chocolate, but even normal milk chocolate can be dangerous; a small dog sharing candy can wind up in big trouble. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperexcitability, nervousness, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you think your pet has consumed chocolate, try to determine how much, what type, and how long ago and call your veterinarian.

POINSETTIA
Consuming this festive-looking plant can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of the dog or cat that chews on or eats it. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia is not specifically toxic.

MISTLETOE
The fact that there are several types of mistletoe makes it difficult to predict the clinical signs of poisoning. Some mistletoes produce only stomach upset while others may lead to liver failure or seizures. Consider mistletoe to be a hazardous substance and keep it inaccessible to pets and children.

DIETARY INDISCRETION
We all like to include our pets in Holiday meals along with the rest of the family, but try to keep in mind that sudden rich diet changes are likely to upset a pet’s stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon. If leftovers are of an especially fatty nature, the pancreas may become inflamed and overloaded. This condition is serious and may require hospitalization

On behalf of all of us at Montana Veterinary Specialists, have a safe and happy holiday season!

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