- Pets and Animals
Parties can be dangerous for pets
Be Careful About Including Pets
The holiday season is a hectic time and, before you get too preoccupied with all that entails, let me remind you of how dangerous the holidays can be for pets. In the spirit of the season, we tend to feel more generous and a little less diligent regarding our pets.
For 10 ½ months out of the year, we don’t expose our pets to certain things, but during the holiday season we bend the rules a bit, which can put them in harm’s way. Because it’s “just this once” we let our guard down. Just be cognizant of some of the dangers.
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For example, a miniature or toy breed dog licking the gravy off a few plates could suffer an attack of pancreatitis, and that can be fatal.
During the holiday season, vets tell me, is when they see more acute pancreatitis. One major cause is when owners pour pan drippings from the holiday turkey over their dog’s food.
The pancreas releases digestive enzymes into the small intestine, which become active once they've reached their destination.
In a fat-overload they become active before leaving the pancreas and end up digesting the pancreas, itself.
Needless to say, it’s an extremely painful emergency that is often fatal.
There are other dangers. Chocolate, especially the dark variety, is toxic and potentially fatal.
While it takes a large amount of milk chocolate to kill a dog, roughly an ounce of baking chocolate per ten pounds of body weight is a lethal dose for dogs.
Alcohol is toxic also, and pets are attracted to it. Drinks spilled or left unattended can be consumed with disastrous results. And they may try to lap empty cans (and their severed lids and tabs) resulting in lacerated tongues.
Another thing about alcohol: as it begins to work its magic, and over-indulging guests lose their inhibitions and good judgment, your pets could easily fall victim to "mischief by the impaired."
Aromas that cling to cellophane wrap and aluminum foil can lead to ingestion hazards in dogs and cats that eat those materials. Ever hear of linear string foreign body?
Requiring surgical repair, it's caused when pets ingest stringy materials, so be extra careful when disposing of juice-soaked strings from roasts and poultry, and with ribbon and string-type gift wrap and decorations.
The danger of linear string foreign body is that the wave-like motion of the intestines causes the organ to "gather" around the string. So, if you see string protruding from either end of your pet, do not pull on it. You could lacerate or even slice through the intestine. Call your vet or the 24-hour emergency vet clinic right away. They’ll likely do emergency surgery.
With pets in the house, it's best not to decorate your tree with food items. Eating those decorations, pets can ingest string, ribbon, or wire. And gift wrapped food items pose similar hazards to pets, which can smell the food through the wrapping.
Holiday plants are a concern. While Poinsettias will usually cause gastric upset, Holly and Mistletoe can be fatal. It's a good idea to save the tags that come with your plants.
They usually list the scientific, or taxonomic, name (Latin words, usually with a lot of syllables). It will enable quicker identification of the toxic substance and save valuable time when your vet needs to treat a pet for plant toxicity.
To reduce the chances of pets stealing or mooching food from party guests, feed them (the pets, that is) earlier. Isolating your pets from the festivities is better, especially in the case of dogs.
Even if your dog generally tolerates strangers, he may be less tolerant of a bunch of them at one time, especially with all the commotion that's going on; and that could result in fear aggression or other behavioral issues.
Make sure your pets have their ID tags on just in case an escape occurs. With the doors being opened frequently, and being held open for arriving or departing guests, the opportunity certainly presents itself; another good reason to keep the pets isolated.
It’s great to include your pets but don’t set them up for illness or injury. Stockings full of pet treats and toys, or a special pet food garnished with some canned food are good ways to include your pets in the holiday festivities.