All Pets Veterinary Clinic

Fall and Winter Pet Hazards

The final months of the calendar year are among the most festive months of the year.
While we are busy enjoying Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years we have to remember
that these holidays pose a set of special hazards to our pets. The remainder of
this article will look several common holiday associated dangers for pets and
provide tips to avoid holiday pet disasters.

1. Dietary indiscretion. The holidays mean parties and parties mean food!
It is not uncommon for pets to be given an excessive amount of goodies by
well-intentioned family members and friends. It is also not uncommon for pets
to help themselves by stealing unattended food from counters and tabletops and
from trash cans.

Some foods will cause gastrointestinal upset including vomiting and diarrhea.
While the signs can be mild and short-lived, excessive indulgence can cause more
severe illness or pancreatitis, which could be fatal. Some foods including
chocolate, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, sugarless sweets containing
xylitol, onions, and garlic are toxic to pets and should be avoided.
Dogs should not be given bones, cooked or raw, as they can cause problems,
literally from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail. It is not
uncommon for bones to become lodged within the oral cavity, throat, esophagus,
stomach, and intestine.

Moving your pet to a different location in the house during parties and
advising your company to not feed your pet are easy steps that can be taken
to avoid dietary indiscretion. Make sure you empty trash bins and receptacles
promptly and remove them from the house especially if your pets are known to eat
from the trash.

2. Foreign bodies. Many people decorate their homes with a variety of
decorations during the holiday season. Pets, especially young dogs and cats, are
often very curious about the plethora of new things that arrive within their
environment and will often explore these items. It is not uncommon for pets to
accidentally ingest dangling ornaments, shiny tinsel, wreaths and garlands, etc.

Foreign material that is too large to pass or stringy in nature may become lodged
in the stomach or intestine. If this occurs your pet may experience vomiting,
lethargy, loss of appetite, depression, and abdominal pain. Bowel obstructions
that are not identified and remedied promptly can lead to serious complications
including death.

Prompt removal of items that your pet is continually pestering or relocation of
these items to an area in your home that the pet does not have access to is the
best protection against foreign body ingestion. If your pet does ingest foreign
material, immediate consultation with your veterinarian can make the difference
between a small problem and a large disaster.

3. Electrocution. Many holiday decorations will often require the addition
of extra electrical cords or the use of batteries. Curious dogs and cats will
sometimes chew on newly placed electrical cords and can receive serious injures
including oral burns. The contents of punctured batteries can also cause oral
ulceration and illness if ingested.

Make sure electrical cords are securely fastened and unplugged when not in use.
Again, if your pet is excessively interested in electrical cords move them to a
location that your pet does not inhabit or isolate your pet from these dangers.

4. Burns. Candles, melts, hot stovetops, space heaters, etc. can all thermal
injury and burns to your pet. Never leave anything with an open flame or hot surface
in the vicinity of your pet unless you are present and attentive to your pets

5. Bite wounds. Family gatherings often require traveling to different
locations and it is becoming more and more common for people to travel with their
pet. Whenever pets are exposed to unfamiliar animals and new and strange
environments there is an increased risk for aggressive tendencies to flare.
Aggressive episodes can result in mild skin wounds and lacerations to severe
internal injuries.

When possible, slowly introduce new pets to each other over several days.
Do not leave animals that are unfamiliar with each other unattended until you
are sure they can get along appropriately. Travel with your pets favorite
carrier or kennel so they have a safe area where they can acclimate to new

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not
intended to take the place of your regular veterinarian. Please do not hesitate
to contact your regular veterinarian if you have questions regarding your pet.

Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
12 March 2016