Holiday festivities can pose certain threats to our pets
As we celebrate, decorate, bake and visit during the holidays, it's good to remember some of our festivities can be hazardous to our pets.
According to veterinarian Dr. Steven Marks, "Having pets around during the holidays is like having small children around -- you have to think of all the things they can get into."
Many animal organizations and agencies, including the ASPCA, AHA and HSUS, offer holiday safety tips for our pets. One of these is that certain foods are potentially dangerous. According to the ASPCA, our companion animals face serious consequences if they ingest chocolate.
"In any form, ranging from one-ounce baking squares to hand dipped truffles, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both methylxanthines, that can cause stimulation of the central nervous system, an increase in heart rate and tremors."
Other foods are also dangerous to our pets. Onions are toxic, inhibiting an animal's ability to coagulate blood. Holiday foods such as turkey, ham and other fatty foods can cause pancreatitis, resulting in stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea.
Grapes and raisins can lead to loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and acute renal failure in dogs. Sugar-free sweets containing xylitol can also make dogs ill. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports a link appears to exist between xylitol ingestion and liver failure in dogs.
If you suspect your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call your veterinarian, your local emergency animal hospital, or call the APCC's emergency hotline at (888)-426-4435 for 24-hour assistance.
Holiday decorations may also pose a danger to our companion animals. Since cats love to climb trees, subsequently knocking them down, and dogs like to chew wires, our Christmas trees may attract our companion animals.
Moving the wires out of reach or out of view will reduce the attraction. With the Christmas tree sitting on a flat, wide base, common practice is to anchor the tree with fishing line tied to a drapery rod or a wall hook.
If your Christmas tree sits in a pan of water, the water may contain preservatives. Using a tree skirt may limit the possibility of pets drinking the tree water and reduce their chances of stomach problems.
Tinsel, garlands, ribbons and other strings are particularly attractive to cats. They also pose a strangulation risk if they get wrapped around a pet's neck. If strings are swallowed, they can cause a serious blockage in the intestines, since they will not pass easily through the digestive system.
Mylar gift wrap, balloons and plastic bags can become a suffocation hazard if left lying around. Picking up gift bags, ribbons, strings and gift paper immediately after wrapping or opening gifts removes the hazards.
We also need to think of our pets during holiday parties and festivities. To reduce their anxiety and to keep them safe, separate them from the party in another room. Opening and closing doors with visitors coming and going provides an opportunity for your pet to get out of the house.
This might be a good time to make sure he's wearing a current ID tag and is microchipped.
As you prepare for the holidays, sharing a walk with your dog is a great way to regroup. Both of you will enjoy it.
• The Buddy Foundation, 65 W. Seegers Road, Arlington Heights, is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization. Call (847) 290-5806 or visit www.thebuddyfoundation.org.