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Nanaimo Veterinary Hospital

Holiday Pet Precautions

Nanaimo Veterinary Hospital offers tips on how to keep your pet safe during the holidaysBy Dr. Jill Harrison

It’s all Fun and Games until you end up at Emergency

The holidays are a time of generosity and giving, but there are a few things you should avoid sharing with your pet this season.  Some of the most commonly encountered holiday dangers are festive houseplants such as holly, mistletoe and poinsettia.  The leaves and berries, as well as the sticky sap from these plants can cause severe stomachaches resulting in vomiting and diarrhea that may be so severe it can leave your pets dangerously dehydrated.  

Tasty for us…Toxic for Them

As you enjoy many wonderful meals and treats throughout the holiday season it is of importance to keep a number of our favorite foods away from your pets.  Bones can cause obstructions and risk putting holes in the esophagus, stomach and intestines, which will require emergency surgery to correct.  Ingestion of rich, fatty foods such as gravy, poultry skin, and succulent sauces can cause severe stomach upset and can lead to a serious condition known as pancreatitis, which can require emergency hospitalization.  Although not holiday specific, chocolate is a very dangerous treat for your pets; ingestion can lead to profuse vomiting and diarrhea and can lead to other serious health problems that can involve the cardiovascular system.  Xylitol is now commonly used as a sugar substitute in chewing gum, toothpaste, hard candies and for baking.  This product is very dangerous to pets as very small amounts can lead to very low blood sugar, dangerous liver disease and problems with blood clotting.  Onions and garlic can also be harmful for your pet, as can macadamia nuts, these products can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and more severely problems with their kidneys and red blood cells.  Raisins and grapes are also on the list for no-nos for Fido. 

Lovely to Look at…Tempting to Taste

Home decorations including electrical cords are always a risk, so please be aware of your pets’ curiosity and have cords secured and out of the way.  Candles can pose a serious risk for the curious noses of our companions.  In addition, playful paws or wagging tails can suffer serious burns from the flame, and even the hot wax.

When it comes to the Christmas tree, ensure it is stable and unlikely to fall if bumped, nudged or gently explored.   If you are enjoying a real tree this season, avoid using tree preservatives such as water additives, sugary solutions or even Aspirin, as ingestion by an inquisitive pet could result in an unpleasant surprise for Santa to step in.  If eaten, pine needles can lead to intestinal damage and perforations if the needles are sharp enough.  Lastly, please be aware of alluring ornaments that could break or be eaten.  Although our pets think they are the best holiday toy around, tinsel and ribbons can be very harmful if ingested, leading to obstructions and intestinal damage.

With a bit of caution and smart preventative measures the holidays can be a happy time for everyone.  Wishing you all a very happy and safe holiday season!


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