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Three Holiday Threats To Your Dog Or Cat (And How To Avoid Them)

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When holiday time approaches, common foods and ornaments you may regard as festive may become a danger to your pet. When creating a celebratory holiday environment, don't overlook the little things that may land Fido or Fluffy in the emergency vet clinic. As a devoted pet owner, you probably are aware of the common hazards such as ingesting tinsel, knocking over a holiday candle or chewing on electrical cords. However, there are several other threats to your pet that may be overlooked.

The following is a list of three potential threats to your fur-babies, and how you can avoid a holiday hazard:

1. Toxic or Harmful Foods

As you prepare your holiday feast, don't forget that some common ingredients may pose a threat to your pet; therefore, most table scraps should be off limits to your dog or cat. While some foods and ingredients are toxic and could present an emergency situation, others may cause gastrointestinal upset or other health issues. Foods to keep out of your pet's reach are:

  • Chocolate (in any form): While the caffeine in chocolate may cause heart irregularities in your dog or cat, the chemical substance known as theobromine is toxic to pets and may cause serious illness when ingested. Dark chocolate is known to have the highest quantities of this toxic substance. Serious complications of chocolate toxicity in pets are seizures and cardiac arrest, although smaller doses may cause diarrhea and vomiting. Play it safe and keep those holiday chocolates away from your dog or cat's curious reach.

  • Chicken, Turkey or Steak Bones: In fact, any type of bone from your holiday should not be offered to your dog or cat. The reason is fairly simple: bones may become a choking hazard, as they can easily splinter. The splintered pieces of bone may also become lodged in your pet's intestines, causing serious issues. When discarding bones from your holiday meal, keep the trash inaccessible to your pets.

  • Macadamia nuts: This nut is commonly found in holiday cookies and treats. Don't feed any food containing macadamia nuts to your dog or cat. These nuts are known to be toxic to cats and dogs and may produce symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and seizures.

  • Artificial Sweeteners Found in Some Desserts: Did you know the artificial sweetener known as xylitol may cause health issues when consumed by your pet? Other than gastrointestinal distress, it may cause seizures and organ damage, so be mindful of this.

2. Christmas Foliage

During the holidays many homes are decorated with bows of holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants. While these make for a festive display, they are toxic to pets and should be placed out of reach. When ingested, these plants may cause serious digestive upset or neurological issues in dogs and cats.

3. Holiday Stress

The flurry of activity during holiday preparations may not seem like a "threat" to your pet's health, but it may be something to be concerned about. Some pets, particularly cats or shy dogs, may become stressed by the disruption of their normal routine or by the hustle and bustle associated with holiday "cheer." The attention and lively chatter from even the most well-meaning guest or well-behaved child may be overwhelming for your dog or cat. Pets under stress may experience digestive upset or loss of appetite. Disruptive behavior such as excessive barking or chewing may indicate stress as well.

How can you help alleviate your pet's stress during your holiday festivities? Designate a quiet and secure spot for your dog and cat to retreat to. If you know that visitors (especially high-spirited children) will be coming over, place your pet in another location of the house.

It's reassuring to know an emergency veterinary clinic like Gwynedd Veterinary Hospital is there when needed, but prevention is the best course of action. By avoiding the above mentioned pet hazards, you can help keep your canine companion or feline friend happy and healthy during the holidays.