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Keep Your Pet Safe During The Holidays

Nov 27, 2011 07:22PM ● Published by Erin Frisch

Keep Your Pets Safe

Veterinarian reveals hidden dangers

As the pages of the calendar flip and we move closer to the holiday season, pet owners should be aware of common—but hidden—dangers to their pets as we transform our homes for the celebrations to come. “The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy for our families, but in preparing for the season, many pet owners run the risk of exposing their pets to household dangers that could present potential life-threatening hazards to their four-legged friends,” said veterinarian Lori Pasternak, of Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care (www.helpinghandsvetva.com). “These latent hazards could derail a family’s holiday season if their pets become ill as a result of these hidden perils.” Pasternak’s list of prospective risks include:
  • Decorations – While holiday decorations can make a home feel more festive, they can be tantalizing traps for pets. Pet owners should keep decorations and ornaments higher up on trees so they are not consumed by pets. If a pet decides the colorful garland or tree trim might make a tasty snack, they can and will get stuck in your pet’s intestines, necessitating immediate surgical removal. Moreover, exposed cords from electric lights can cause electrocution or oral burns if chewed.
  • Gift Wrap – When it’s time to pull all the gifts out of hiding to be wrapped, take care that your pet isn’t in the room as you spread out all the wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons. If a cat should starting gnawing on the ribbon, it will literally “stitch” the cat’s intestines together as it is being passed through the gut. Surgery is one holiday gift you don’t want to give your family pet.
  • Holiday Feast – While turkey and ham make up the majority of traditional holiday meals, turkey and ham bones can become lodged in the intestines if swallowed in large pieces. Be careful that your guests don’t give in to the holiday spirit too much and choose this time to offer table scraps to your pets. Your pet could become seriously ill or even choke to death.
  • Flowers – The poinsettias many choose to use as holiday centerpieces are also toxic to most household pets if they are chewed and swallowed in large enough quantities. The level of toxicity is completely proportionate to the size and weight of your pet, but instead of doing the math on that equation, it’s better to choose other types of floral arrangements that don’t endanger your pets.
“The holidays should be a time for fun, not an unscheduled trip to the animal hospital,” Pasternak added. “If something does happen, don’t hesitate to take your pet to the nearest animal hospital, and know that if you come to ours, we work with our pet owners on affordable payment structures in emergency cases. But we’d rather not see you this season. The best holiday gift you could give your pet is a hazard-free household so they can enjoy the warmth and joy of your celebrations safely and soundly.”

Lori Pasternak, DVM, graduated from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1998. She worked in a full-service practice in Richmond, Virginia, for 13 years prior to opening Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care.

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