It’s That Most Wonderful Time of Year but Not for Pets

It happens every year. We get consumed with plans for the holidays, decorating the tree, sprucing up the house, baking cookies and whatever other activity one thinks of when preparing for the holidays. But where are the cats? Are the dogs far away from anything that they might consider edible? No matter how vigilant we are it never fails to happen. The phone rings…..we pick it up and the next thing we know a pound of chocolate is gone from the kitchen counter…..consumed by our black Lab, Clyde. Or we get out the decorations and don’t get them totally hung or put away before we have to take the cookies out of the oven. Next thing we know, Felix our mischievous cat is busy trying to swallow the rest of the string he found hanging out of the decoration box. How long was that string? Has he just started or has he been at it a while.? What about Clyde? Am I sure the chocolate was out on the counter? Was it one pound or a half pound? Was it dark, milk or white chocolate?

These stories will be repeated time and time again this holiday season. So just a few tips before you wind up making an emergency trip to your local animal hospital. Things to be aware of to ensure you and your pet have a happy holiday:

1. Chocolate (of any kind) is toxic to pets.

2. Strings, threads, tinsel, ribbons or any linear objects. They don’t pass through the intestine before causing very serious damage. Often they don’t pass at all.

3. Light cords are enticing for dogs and cats alike. One bite can be fatal.

4. Plants can brighten up the house but can be toxic to pets. Poinsettias, lilies, ivy’s are but a few of the potentially poisonous plants for dogs and cats. “When in doubt…..put it out” is an adage we often apply to plants of unknown origin. They can’t do much harm if they’re in the garage.

5. A “Don’t knock when you arrive….. just come in” policy is inviting for friends and family alike during the holidays. Too bad the excited puppy and the mischievous cat think so as well. Problem is….they don’t “just come in”, they go out.

6. Baking a ham? Roasting a turkey? Do you know where that hambone is? How about the turkey carcass? If you want to see a really sick dog…just give him a nice juicy slice of ham. For some reason most dogs just don’t digest pork. And as far as hambones go, yes they go down but they don’t usually pass through uneventfully. Same is true for many of the food remnants, leftovers and scraps left on used plates.

7. Finally , if you think it is cute that the pet drinks out of the Christmas tree water reservoir just think of the insecticides, the fertilizers, the fire retardant chemicals and the toxic oils that can leach out of pine trees before allowing your pet to satisfy their thirst.

I welcome you all to contribute any stories or cautionary tales that you may have heard or lived through during a holiday season with your pet. Above all just remember this ……….If you think there is any remote chance that a decoration, plant, food item or anything else may be harmful to your pet during this holiday season I suggest you err on the side of caution. As Murphy’s law comes to haunt us just think the worst possible scenario and you probably won’t be too surprised or disappointed. There are a lot of risks for your pets during the holiday seaon. Please be careful.

On behalf of all of us at the Brockton Animal Hospital please have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season for both you and your family as well as your four legged companions.