Monday, December 9, 2013

Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season

By: Dr. Dan Sanchez,
Co-founder, South Loop Animal Hospital

The holiday season can be a surprisingly busy time at veterinary clinics. Decorations, treats and visitors can all lead to problems for pets. Although we always enjoy seeing our clients and their pets, we’d prefer that it not be for an emergency during the holiday season. So, here are some tips on how to keep your pets safe at Christmas, New Year’s, and during football bowl games.

1. Tag and microchip all pets

Even typically calm pets may run out the door when visitors arrive. It’s best to keep pets away from open doors, on a leash or otherwise under control as guests come and go. Be sure your pet has a collar with an address tag and a microchip with your contact information so it can be reunited with you if it does escape. Your veterinarian can quickly implant a microchip if your pet doesn’t already have one.

2. Keep pets and party food separate

Many nuts, spices and other human foods are toxic to pets. Onions, raisins, grapes or even just too many hot dogs snatched during a bowl game can mean trouble for pets. If possible, keep pets in a separate area during holiday celebrations to avoid any ingestion of human foods.

Chocolate, grapes, and onions are trouble for pets.

3. Don't share your drinks

Curious pets will also drink beverages left within their reach. Alcohol, eggnog, soft drinks and juices are all bad for your pets. Even small amounts of alcohol can have a toxic effect on your pet’s nervous system.

4. Sweet treats are not for Pets

Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate, the greater the risk. Baking chocolate and dark chocolate have the highest toxicity levels. Sugar-free candies and gums that contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol are also extremely dangerous to pets.

5. Keep holiday decorations pet-friendly
Christmas tree ornaments can be a choking hazard
and tinsel is a no-no in a home with pets.

Holiday decorations with dangling ribbons or string are choking hazards for pets if they become entangled in them. These materials can also cause serious intestinal obstruction as well, requiring emergency surgery to remove. Christmas trees should be properly secured so that a curious cat or dog cannot knock it over. Place delicate ornaments above the reach of pets. Never use tinsel if you have pets as it can require surgery to remove it if swallowed.

6. Don’t let pets smell the flowers

Many flowers and plants popular during the holidays are toxic to pets. Mistletoe, holly and azaleas can make pets very ill. Lilies are so highly toxic to cats that they should not be brought into homes that have cats. If your cat consumes any part of a lily, please seek immediate medical attention. Poinsettias are actually not as toxic as most people believe, but ingestion can still cause stomach upset.

7. Don’t let purses and bags be a treasure trove of danger

Purses and bags left on the floor present a troublesome opportunity to pets. Curious pets are known to take medications, gum, make-up and other items out of unattended purses and bags. If you keep medication in your purse, please be aware of the name of the medicine, the dosage and the quantity. This information will be very helpful should a pet get into it.

Anytime your pet gets into something it shouldn’t, please contact your veterinarian, a veterinary poison control center or a veterinary emergency center immediately. Prompt action can make a significant difference in the outcome.

We wish you and your pets the very best this holiday season and throughout the New Year!

About the South Loop Animal Hospital
Located at 1640 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, South Loop Animal Hospital offers a state-of-the-art clinic and high-quality, individualized veterinary care. The clinic is open Monday – Friday from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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