Holidays Can Be Hazardous For Your Pet

Dunmore,WV – It may the day after Christmas, but many families and friends will still gather during this week to continue holiday celebrations; and family pets are often part of those celebrations. And there’s no harm is giving them a little taste of the leftover turkey, right? Actually there is, according to Lindsay Seilhimer, veterinarian at the University of Illinois Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine.

“You know, they’re celebrating and they want their pet to celebrate with them – so they want to give them some of their table food, and it’s just not a good idea.”

That’s because those holiday foods, many of them high in fat content, can lead to inflammation of the pancreas, which can make dogs sick and cause a lot of pain. Animal treats are best for dogs. Or you if you want to make a special treat for your pets, take some of their regular food, mix with water to form a dough, then cut into shapes and bake until crunchy. Don’t give your pets chocolate – dogs are especially susceptible, but other animals can also be affected. The culprit in chocolate is the compound Theobromine and relatively small amounts can make your animal sick or even be fatal in larger amounts.

Be careful about other water sources around the house during the holidays, such as water in a Christmas tree stand or in a potpourri container. Make sure such sources are inaccessible to your pets.

When it comes to cats, one of the biggest temptations during the holiday is all those wonderful “play toys” dangling so enticingly from the Christmas tree. But ingesting tinsel from the tree can cause serious damage in a cat’s intestine, according to the Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine. One end can get stuck while the rest is pulled into the intestine as it contracts; the contractions may cause the ribbon or tinsel to saw through the intestine.

If not caught in time, an infection could develop and the prognosis for recovery becomes poor. Pets who’ve ingested things like tinsel or ribbon quickly become ill with signs including vomiting, diarrhea, depression, belly pain and sometimes fever. Dr. Seilhimer says cats sometime even eat pine needles – and that could lead to surgery.

“There have been a few cats who eat a bunch of it, and the needles sort of all conglomerate in one area in the stomach – and then, they need surgery to remove that.”

Contrary to popular belief Poinsettias are actually not very toxic to pets. They do have a milky sap that can irritate the mouth, but it’s usually a mild reaction. Mistletoe, on the other hand, is very toxic to animals, and can cause vomiting, severe diarrhea, difficult breathing, shock and death within hours of ingestion. If your animal has ingested any part of the plant, call your veterinarian immediately.

Visiting friends and family sometimes means mixing animals too. Dr. Seilhimer says to be cautious when introducing dogs to each other.

“You always want to have a controlled introduction, with dogs on a leash, because they’re not necessarily all going to get along. And we do see bite wounds that way, especially over food and toys.”

And of course, don’t share your alcoholic drinks with your pets. Thanks to the West Virginia news service for some of the information in this report.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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