Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pet Health Tip-Holiday Hazards

Since we are moving into the holiday season, I thought I would write a post reminding everyone of the potential hazards for pets this time of year.
First, there are several potential dangers associated with the abundance of food we consume during the holiday season.  Chocolate, especially baker's chocolate, can be very dangerous.  It can cause a variety of neurologic signs.  For more details about the dangers of chocolate, see my previous post on chocolate toxicity.  Other foods like onions and grapes are also toxic to dogs.  Additionally, turkey bones can be very dangerous.  The bones can splinter and puncture the bowels leading to peritonitis or they can become lodged in the bowel and require surgery to remove.  Finally, dogs that are not accustomed to eating the high fat foods that we eat at the holidays are at risk of developing pancreatitis when they are fed the leftovers.  This is something that I saw quite frequently in practice.  Pancreatitis causes vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and can be life threatening.  So, bottom line, DON'T let your dog join in the feasting!!!
Another danger that pets face during the holidays is the stress of so much activity going on around them.  This can be especially stressful for older pets.  High levels of stress most frequently causes "stress colitis". This is severe inflammation of the colon leading to bloody diarrhea.
Finally, for cats the most dangerous part of the holiday is the Christmas tree.  Cats love shiny objects, especially tinsel.  They have a tendency to swallow these objects.  This can lead to the tinsel becoming trapped in the intestines.  It usually requires surgery to remove the tinsel. 
Final thoughts, the holiday season is an exciting time of the year for everyone, including out pets.  With just a few precautions, you can ensure that it is also a safe time of the year.

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