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Keep Your Pets Un-Spooked This Holiday Season


October through December is a time for lots of family celebrations and traditions.  While the holidays can provide a lot of excitement for humans, it can be a bit troublesome for pets.   Here are 4 ways to keep your pets safe through 2013!

1Keep all chocolate and raisins out of reach

Many households have extra chocolate on hand right now.  Dogs admitted to CARES with chocolate toxicity have symptoms of excitement, tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, vomiting, diarrhea, and more.  Sometimes their heart rate skyrockets! Dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate. A 35 lb. dog would be expected to be ill following ingestion of 34 oz. of milk chocolate, but could get ill on as little as 3.8 oz. of dark/unsweetened chocolate.  That’s just one small candy bar!  Another dangerous treat is raisins, which can cause kidney failure in dogs.  For some dogs, eating just a very small amount of raisins can be fatal.

 2.  Keep all pets indoors on Halloween and don’t give your pet access to the front door.

As trick-or-treaters come to the house, your pets can easily escape.  Be sure to put them inside where they feel comfortable and don’t have access to your door.  Not only can they get lost, but also the chances of getting hit by a car are elevated on Halloween night. Also, don’t leave pets outdoors on Halloween, as this can lead to unfortunate mistreatment and cruelty by people passing by.

 3.  Fatty foods can pose a health risk

Most emergencies at CARES this time of year, come from the food that pets eat.  When you sit down to that big turkey or ham dinner this season, consider what you are giving your pet.  Turkey scraps and other holiday meals can be very fatty or greasy which can lead to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).  In mild cases of pancreatitis, you may notice that your pet won’t eat or they may vomit.  Severe cases of pancreatitis can be fatal.

Bones from the family meal are also not a good idea. These bones can not only irritate the stomach, but they can get stuck in the mouth or throat, causing a pet to hyper salivate and drool.  Even worse, if a bone gets lodged internally, it could require surgical removal.  Be sure to hide the trash can from your pet on holidays, so they are not digging bones or other fatty foods out of the trash.

If you want to give your pet a special treat during holiday celebrations, ask your family veterinarian if a carrot or apple would be a good choice for your pet.  Your pet will thank you for the special attention and you will be less likely to have a hospital visit!

Feline tongue ulceration from liquid potpourri ingestion
Feline tongue ulceration from liquid potpourri ingestion

 4.  Watch out for the holiday decor and presents!

Cat owners should consider an alternative to buying tinsel for the holiday tree.  Cats are attracted to the shiny strands of tinsel and they could easily swallow it.  Tinsel can cause serious intestinal problems that often require costly surgery and can be fatal.

If you are a cat owner and want to brighten your home with flowers, avoid True Lilies (Lilium).  These flowers, when ingested, cause kidney failure in cats.  Remember this if you are bringing a fresh bouquet to a friend or family member’s home.

A sweet smelling home is always a nice way to welcome visitors during the holidays, but keep in mind that potpourri should be kept out of reach of pets.  Potpourri can cause gastrointestinal problems including vomiting and diarrhea if eaten.

Finally, as you unwrap your holiday gifts, be sure to watch out for ribbons, bows and small toys, all of which can be ingested by your pet.  Keep an empty trash bag nearby so you can dispose of wrapping and ribbons immediately.

X-ray from a Rottweiler who had eaten a bag of Christmas bows.  You can see the wires from the bows.
X-ray from a Rottweiler who had eaten a bag of Christmas bows. You can see the wires from the bows.

CARES would like to wish all of our pet parents and their furry loved ones, a very safe and happy holiday season!  For more pet tips, “like” us on Facebook at