THE HOLIDAYS AND YOUR PETS
Summer is over and the holidays are right
around the corner. This time of year, as we get busier and busier and get
wrapped up in the holiday spirit, we need to remember to make the holidays
safe for our pets.
Although Thanksgiving is a time for
sharing, we urge you not to share your holiday meal with your pet. It is
also a good idea to tell guests not to "share" with your pet. Table scraps,
including Thanksgiving turkey are unhealthy for pets. Turkey bones or
spoiled meat can be especially dangerous to your pet's health. Turkey bones,
like other bird bones, are hollow and therefore break easily and splinter
into sharp pieces. Most dogs will not chew the bones thoroughly and sharp
pieces can cause blockage and perforate the intestinal tract. And don't
forget that a cat can easily jump up on a table or countertop to help
himself to treats that you may have thought were out of reach.
A pet who has a turkey bone lodged in his
digestive system may not show any symptoms for 1 to 2 days. When symptoms do
occur they may include loss of appetite, depression, vomiting and/or
diarrhea. Sometimes the bone will pass by itself, other times it may need to
be removed surgically. Another common ailment in pets that eat leftover
turkey is salmonella food poisoning. Salmonella is an organism that lives in
the turkey's intestinal tract. The cooking process usually destroys all the
organisms, making the turkey safe to eat. Occasionally, the center of the
turkey may be undercooked, especially if it's large or full of stuffing. If
the meat sits out at room temperature too long, the salmonella organisms can
multiply and cause contamination. Pets may become poisoned if they eat any
of the turkey that has been sitting out.
Once Thanksgiving is over, it is time for
lights, decorations and Christmas trees! It is also a time for potential
hazards to your pets over every square inch of your house. As with your
Thanksgiving turkey, use extreme care with your holiday meals. Since people
tend to entertain more frequently during Christmas and New Year, encourage
your guests not to share with your pets. Remember that while you may be
happy to have a house full of guests to celebrate the holidays with, your
pets don't necessarily share your same enthusiasm. With everyone coming and
going, watch out for open doors and sneaky pets. Make sure your pets have
collars and tags on in case they escape. Ask guests to keep an eye out for
pets under foot and also tell them to be aware that sometimes your normally
friendly dog or cat may be frightened by the crowd and noise and also may be
frightened by and therefore not so friendly with enthusiastic children.
Provide a special quiet place with a blanket and fresh water (also a
litterbox if you have cats) for your pet to retreat to when the festivities
get too stressful.
Be aware of
where you leave treats such as chocolates, which can be toxic to your pet if
ingested. Be careful with cups and glasses when serving alcoholic beverages.
You don't want your pets to drink from glasses left unattended. Decorations,
while nice to look at also pose a potential threat. Cats are attracted to
tinsel which can get wrapped in the intestines, requiring surgery.
Strings of lights are also pretty to look at, but if your pet chews
the wires, they can be fatally shocked and/or badly burned. Other things to
be aware of are small ornaments, metal ornament hooks, and pieces to toys
that children might leave around when playing with their new gifts. These
may be ingested and cause choking or blockage. Poinsettia plants as well as
mistletoe and holly are very popular during the holidays, but they are
poisonous if your pet eats them. Pine needles from live trees can cause
gastric upset and even puncture your pet's intestines. Be
careful if you have candles burning that might be knocked over by your pet
and make sure your Christmas tree is secure so it cannot be knocked over by
running dogs or climbing cats.
The holidays are a time to celebrate and
spend time with your friends and family. Just be sure that while you are
enjoying the holiday spirit, that you take extra care with those members of
your family that cannot care for themselves. This way you can ensure that
you "all" enjoy both a happy and a healthy holiday season.