These are of special interest to playful cats and kittens who see these materials as toys (or prey) to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing pose no health threats, chewing and swallowing do, as these strings or “linear foreign bodies” can become lodged in the GI tract and actually “saw” a hole in the intestines as the body tries desperately to rid itself of the string. This is a life-threatening condition requiring emergency surgery for correction. Do not allow your pets to play with ribbon, tinsel, or string.

Electric cords can be tempting to cats who like to play with string and also to puppies who are teething and interested in chewing. If a pet bites through an electrical cord, it could result in a severe burn to the tongue which can cause the pet’s lung to fill with fluid, causing respiratory distress. This is an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention. Additionally, this could result in damage to your property as well as your pet. There have been reports of house fires caused by pet’s chewing on electric light cords.

Many people do not realize that chocolate is poisonous to pets. It is primarily dark chocolate that is the culprit as unsweetened baking chocolate carries a much higher dose of the toxin “theobromine” than does milk chocolate. Milk chocolate can also be dangerous if enough is consumed. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperexcitability, nervousness, vomiting, and diarrhea and death. Use caution when receiving packages that may contain chocolate or when storing boxes of chocolate candies on your countertops. If your pet does ingest chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately with information on time of ingestion and approximate amount. Bring the box or container from any eaten chocolate to your veterinary appointment, as this will help us determine the dose that your dog or cat ingested.

Consuming this festive-looking plant can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of the dog or cat that chews on or eats it. Stomach irritation can lead to vomiting and dehydration. Keep your pets away from this plant.

The fact that there are several types of mistletoe makes it difficult to predict the clinical signs of poisoning. Some mistletoes produce only stomach upset while others may lead to liver failure or seizuring. Consider mistletoe to be a hazardous substance and keep it inaccessible to pets and children.

Keep pets out of the kitchen during the hustle and bustle of the season. The last thing you want is for someone you love to get underfoot and get burned from spillage. Additionally, use care when stowing extra groceries as butter, baking chocolate, salt or salted nuts, chips, meats, and many more holiday items could make your pet dangerously sick. This is especially important if your dog or cat can reach your countertops.

We all like to include our pets in Holiday meals along with the rest of the family, but try to keep in mind that sudden rich diet changes are likely to upset a pet’s stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon. If leftovers are of an especially fatty nature, the pancreas may become inflamed and overloaded. This can result in a condition called pancreatitis which generally requires hospitalization and can lead to complications and death. Do NOT allow your pet to eat fatty meat scraps, salty chips or nuts, pan drippings, or gravy.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is sometimes used in baked goods, candies, gum and just about any food or human supplement that is artificially sweetened. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and cats, causing low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure and even death.

Holiday cocktails are delicious to us so our pets may be tempted to take a sip if a glass is left around. While a tiny taste of beer has little consequence, larger amounts and stronger drinks are not at all safe for our pets. A few sips of a strong cocktail could easily be enough for a small pet to reach toxic levels of alcohol in their blood.

Our pets are just as susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite as we are. Although your pet may want to escape the noise and chaos of a holiday festivity, leaving them outside in the cold is not a safe option when the temperature goes down. Common sense is the best guide for this one. If you would only be comfortable going out in the cold for a few minutes then also bring your pet in after a few minutes.

While slipping on the ice is no fun, it also can be no fun to walk barefoot on some of the irritating products used to treat the ice. For your own property, if your pet will be stepping on treated areas, it is best to use ice melting products made for pets to walk on or sand, and then wipe their feet off with baby wipes. If you are venturing off of your property with your pet then be aware that other areas may have been treated with products that are not as gentle for pet paws. Wiping paws with a baby wipe immediately after a walk can prevent irritation. If your pet is still has tender paws despite cleaning then pet booties can be a great solution.

While some pets are completely happy to join the festivities, greet the guests and watch the New Year’s fireworks, others can be miserable with anxiety. If your pet is the anxious sort then it can be helpful to set up a safe, quiet room in your home that they know they can retreat to when the party gets going. This can also be helpful to keep them safe from escaping as guests come and go. If just a quiet room is not enough to manage your pet’s anxiety level then be sure to talk to your veterinarian about anxiety medication. There are many options for medications that can make the holidays much happier for even very nervous pets.

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