Petplan pet insurance presents: Holiday pet health tips

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Dec 18 2012

Cocktail Time

The holidays are high season for indulging in a cocktail or two. Alcohol is toxic to pets, and because of their smaller size, petite pets are at a particularly high risk for alcohol poisoning. Unattended beverages may be seen as an open bar for pets who just can’t resist the temptation, so be sure to keep all alcohol well out of reach of our curious four-legged friends. Signs of alcohol poisoning include stupor, staggering, incoordination and vomiting.

Dangerous plants

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When decking the halls, keep in mind that some of the traditionally festive foliage may be dangerous to our pets if ingested. I’m sure you’ve heard that poinsettias are deadly – the truth is that they are only mildly irritating to your pet. Nausea and vomiting may occur, but it is highly unlikely that death will follow ingestion. On the other hand, mistletoe and holly are moderately to severely toxic if ingested. I’m sure you won’t need mistletoe to garner kisses from your pets, but if you do choose to hang it, make sure it’s well out of reach of your pets.

Stocking stuffers

Our pets deserve stockings on Christmas morning, too! Keep stocking stuffers on the safe side by avoiding toys with long strings, which could pose a problem to kitties if ingested. Toys that are easily destructible should be avoided for the same reason – tenacious pups may swallow pieces of toys, which can become lodged in their intestines. Choose your pet’s gifts wisely.

Holiday meals

The same rules apply for Christmas and Hanukkah dinners as they do for the Thanksgiving feast. Traditionally, we put our diets on hold for the holidays, indulging in rich foods like onion-laden latkes or buttery veggies and meat. Chocolate gold coins are common this time of year, too. All of these treats can cause problems for our pets, leading to gastroenteritis or pancreatitis.

Holiday traditions

Whether you have a Christmas tree or a menorah, you should be equally aware of the dangers to your pets. Cats are notoriously curious, and many a Christmas tree has been knocked over during their exploration. Ingestion of tree needles may cause vomiting, and ingestion of tree tinsel can lead to linear foreign bodies. And lighted candles – need we say more? Keep candelabras out-of-reach of prying paws, and keep a close eye on pets when you’re celebrating the season.

But the dangers don’t stop there: Christmas lights, train villages and electric menorahs mean extra wires and extension cords. Pay particular attention to keep these out of reach of your pets. I have seen electric cord burns in both cats and curious puppies who chew on wires, and in worst case scenarios, pets can die from respiratory issues secondary to chomping on these wires. Invest in a plastic wire cover to hide these temptations.

Ringing in the New Year

New Year’s Eve brings its own set of problems. In addition to the aforementioned alcohol, noise makers and fireworks may be enough to cause your pet to hightail it to safer ground. Pets who bolt at the sound of fireworks are at risk of becoming lost, so keep pets safely indoors. Give them a safe place where they can retreat during parties or fireworks, and make sure they are microchipped in case the worst occurs.

While the list of cautions is lengthy, just staying smart about your celebrations will help keep the season merry and bright for the whole family. For added peace of mind, protect your pet this holiday season with a dog insurance or cat insurance policy from Petplan (And keep your veterinarian’s phone number close, just in case!)

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