Holiday hazards for your pets

By Shawn Buchholz
The holiday season is full of joy with family reunited, excitement with gifts and holiday foods and pleasure at the change of the seasons. But the holidays can be a hazardous time for your pets. Here are a few hazards you should avoid to make to keep your holiday season joyful and bright.
Decorations are beautiful, but many kinds can be dangerous to pets. Tinsel, yarn and ribbons are very attractive to cats, and can be harmful if swallowed. Ornaments can lead to blockages of the intestines or stomach in dogs, if ingested. Christmas tree needles and poinsettia leaves can cause indigestion.
Holly, mistletoe and lilies can be life-threatening if eaten. Electric light cords can cause serious burns if chewed, and lighted candles have lured many a curious kitten into burned paws, so don't light them around pets.
The onset of winter weather brings its own hazards. Fireplaces and stoves might have been neat places to play during the summer, but not now when they are in use. Burnt toes hurt! Outdoor pets should be provided with shelter from the wet, cold and wind. Many dogs can tolerate the cold because of the insulating characteristics of their fur, but wet hair ruins this insulation, so dry and sheltered is essential. Water should be guarded from freezing, and sensitive toes should be shielded with boots if walking in the snow long-term.
Who doesn't love holiday goodies? But watch those holiday feasts! Onions, garlic, raisins and grapes can all be toxic if enough is ingested. Chocolate is a well-known toxin for dogs and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to our pets. Make sure your holiday visitors don't "treatGÇ¥ your pets. Pets eat the same food day after day, so a sudden change can cause stomach and intestinal upset or inflammation of the pancreas that can be life threatening. Garbage bags are no deterrent to a strong set of dog teeth, so keep cans well-closed and away from pets to avoid accidental snacking of food scraps.
Last but not least, many pets are not as happy with company as we are. Provide shy pets with a safe haven away from company to reduce their stress. And for all pets, make sure they have an ID tag and are microchipped, so if they escape the house, you can be reunited as fast as possible.
With a few simple precautions, your holiday season can be fun, safe and trouble-free for you and your four-legged friends.
Shawn Buchholz is a veterinarian at Cascade Animal Clinic, serving animal owners in the Sky Valley.-á


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