From a pet’s perspective, everything changes at this time of year. Between the decorations that suddenly appear and the delightful smells of holiday baking, dogs and cats are curious and eager to take part in your traditions. Unfortunately, this natural instinct to explore could get your pet into a situation that could harm her. The tips below will help keep her safe so you can enjoy a worry-free holiday season.
Ornaments, Lights, and Tinsel on the Christmas Tree
Both real and artificial trees have their benefits and drawbacks. One thing to keep in mind with live Christmas trees is that your dog may try to drink the water. Drinking water isn’t a bad thing, but insecticides the grower sprayed on the tree could make their way to the water and cause your dog to become ill. If you’re giving someone a gift of food, your dog may rip open the package and eat the contents before Christmas arrives. It is best to save wrapping these types of gifts until the last minute.
Putting a tree in a cat’s home with many bright things dangling from it may be subjecting him to more temptation than he can handle. While batting at Christmas tree decorations is fun and harmless, chewing or swallowing them can be dangerous. To avoid a potential choking hazard, be certain to tape down all wires and place all dangling ornaments at the top of the tree where your cat is unable to reach them. Since tinsel can cause extensive damage to the digestive tract, it might be best to avoid decorating with it altogether.
If you celebrate Hanukkah, your dog or cat will likely be curious about the Menorah candles. With a live flame, it only takes a quick bat at the candle or swish of the tail for your pet to start a fire or become seriously injured. For pet owners and parents of small children, we recommend using a battery-powered candle if possible. If that would detract from your celebration too much, just make sure to closely supervise pets and kids around burning candles.
Holiday Food Hazards
The powerful aroma of cooking food and seeing people with holiday treats may turn your dog or cat into a terrible beggar. No matter how much your pet begs or gives you sad eyes, don’t give in and share seasonal food and treats unless you know they’re safe.
Chocolate is especially toxic for pets. Some meats are okay to share in small amounts as long as they don’t contain any seasonings or bones. You can expect your pet to zero in on people dropping food or wrappers in the kitchen. The best way to prevent potential choking is to keep him in another room until people are finished eating and everything has been put away.
Be Patient with Your Pet
Your dog or cat is bound to pick up on the excitement and stress of the winter holiday season. This may cause her to misbehave to get your attention. Try to keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible and be sure to spend at least a few minutes of one-on-one time with her each day. While you can’t ignore bad behavior, don’t go overboard with punishment either.
If you experience an emergency this holiday season when our clinics are closed, please call our after-hours line at 1-800-924-0588.
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Assess Your Pet’s Ability to Interact with New People
Thanksgiving Day brings several generations together, from the very young to the very old. If your dog or cat isn’t accustomed to small children trying to pet her or pick her up, it could be a disaster waiting to happen. You also don’t want an overly excited 100-pound dog knocking down an elderly relative. If you have any concerns at all, it’s best to err on the side of caution by placing your pet in a kennel or a room with a closed door until everyone has gone home.
A Word About Thanksgiving Treats
It’s never a good idea to feed a pet human food right from the dinner table as this teaches him poor manners. If you want to share a treat with your dog or cat, make sure it isn’t toxic first. A small amount of boneless turkey without any added seasonings should be fine as long as it’s not undercooked. However, you should avoid grapes, raisins, avocados, sages, bread dough, and cake batter altogether.
Post Emergency Phone Numbers in Advance
In spite of your best planning, your pet may still get into something harmful amidst the noise and confusion of a major holiday. Since it’s hard to think clearly in a crisis, make sure that you post the telephone number for the Pet Poison Helpline and our after-hours emergency answering service in an easily accessible place.
The Pet Poison Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-855-764-7661. Our after-hours telephone number is 1-800-924-0588 and is answered by a live person. If Dr. Palmquist is unavailable, our service will give you contact information for another local provider. Grantsburg Animal Hospital will be closed for Thanksgiving and wishes you a happy holiday.
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