Making the holidays happy and bright for pets and people

Christmas, and all of the December holidays, can be a very happy time for people and pets, provided pet guardians take care of their companions’ physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

No veterinarian ever wants to see their patients as sick visits or discharge papers from the emergency room the day after a vacation.

Follow these tips for more joy during Christmas and the New Year.

Food safety

When preparing food in the kitchen, keep pets away from food preparation areas. Onions, garlic, raisins, grapes, avocado skins and seeds, chocolate, and cooking fat/meat trimmings can all cause pancreatitis and serious gastrointestinal problems that can result in pet death. Is.

When pets are around, they often find dropped food or dirt in the sink or garbage can. Even small amounts of toxic food, such as onions, can cause life-threatening organ damage. It is best practice to keep pets away from food preparation areas.

Pets can also sustain injuries and burns when owners are removing hot food from the oven and stove. If hot liquids are splashed on a pet’s fur, it often takes up to a week for the irritation to appear. If this happens, be sure to take your pet to the ER right away.

If your pet ingests a possible toxin, don’t wait for signs of illness to contact a veterinarian. A quick call to the ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline can often mean the difference between life and death. Keep the 24-hour ASPCA Poison Line in your phone: 888-426-4435. Make sure you have a credit card ready for veterinary toxicology consultations on your phone.

Protection of flowers and plants

Many plants and flowers are poisonous to pets. Some, like poinsettias, are mildly toxic to the stomach. Some plants, including lilies, are highly poisonous, with any part of the plant fatal to cats. For a list of poisonous plants to avoid in your home (with pictures), visit the ASPCA site:


Safety of toys

The packaging of pet toys (when pets ingest the wrappers and cellophane that gives off odors) and the toys themselves can present risks to pets. I do not recommend rope toys for pets, as foreign bodies can become lodged in the intestines. If pets find rope toys, never allow them to play with them unattended. Discard these types of toys if they flare up or become toys.

Keep in mind that pet toys are not tested for toxins and heavy metals. Many pets can be allergic to rubber, dyes and plastics in toys. Avoid giving your pet stuffed animals for babies, as the stuffing can cause intestinal obstruction from eating.

I recommend limiting the number of toys available to all pets, so you can monitor for missing or broken parts and dispose of damaged toys before they become dangerous.

Stress reduction

Stress from noise, visitors and lots of activity in an otherwise quiet home can cause physical illness for pets. Sometimes severe problems, such as diarrhea and stress colitis, develop within hours to days of stressful events.

Visitors who bring pets to holiday celebrations can also present subtle dangers to domestic animals. More chronic effects of stress are increased cortisol levels, inflammation of the pancreas, inflammation and even the development of cancer.

Keep pets in a quiet area of ​​the house when guests come over. Play soft music, diffuse lavender and offer chew toys.

If your pet exhibits hiding, yawning, shaking, or cowering behavior with visitors, keep them out of the action. And before the next vacation, talk to your doctor about natural calming agents to keep everyone’s stress levels down.

Happy New Year to all my readers and everything!

Dr. Cynthia Maro is a veterinarian at Ellwood Animal Hospital in Ellwood City and Chippewa Animal Hospital in Chippewa Township. She writes a bi-weekly column on pet care and health issues. Email if you have a topic you’d like addressed.

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