Avoiding Animal Emergencies This Holiday Season

By Dr John Rand, D.V.M.

Animal EmergenciesThis time of year the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) receives considerably more phone calls than usual. Friends and relatives who come to visit may leave bags out where pets may have access to their medications. Keep any and all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, safely away from your pets at all times. The innumerable cold medicines, vitamins, supplements, pain killers, cold medicines, blood pressure drugs, etc. that may find their way into your home can easily lead you and your pet into a serious situation.

In addition to drugs, protecting your pets from ingesting various human foods is a must. Everyone should know by now that chocolate is toxic to pets – especially baker’s chocolate, dark chocolate, and semi-sweet varieties. Furthermore, pets are also much more sensitive to even tiny amounts of coffee, onions, alcohol, and salts. Avoid giving your animals any foods that are fatty, rich, or spicy. While they may eagerly devour them, these types of foods can incite serious inflammation of the pancreas that can require intensive hospitalization. Cooked poultry bones are also a no-no, as their splintered edges can pierce the stomach and intestines as they pass.

Although not typically thought of as edible, several plants bare mentioning. Many holiday flower arrangements contain various lilies: all Lilium species (Tiger, Easter, Stargazer, Asian, etc.) are HIGHLY toxic to cats. Even nibbling on a leaf or petal warrants a trip to the vet. If not treated quickly, the kidney damage would be irreversible. Every year poinsettias get a bad rap as far as their danger to pets. The truth of the matter is, though, poinsettias (along with mistletoe and holly) have an overhyped potential for poisoning. If ingested, the sap of these plants will usually only cause some irritation to the mouth and skin, along with some potential for vomiting and diarrhea.

Perhaps the biggest plant to be wary of is the Christmas tree. The tree itself poses a risk to cats that may climb, fall from, or be toppled by it. Another problem is the water at the base of live trees; if drunk, it can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea from the fertilizers and bacteria within. Tinsel on trees can be quite tempting for cats to play with and eat. When eaten, the tinsel poses a very common cause for becoming lodged in the intestines, a surgical emergency.

If any of these situations happen while you are out of town, be sure that you have spoken with your pets sitter so they know what to do. Informing your veterinarian as to who will have authority for making decisions for your pet in your absence is always recommended, too. Know your veterinarian’s holiday hours, as well as the number and location of your nearest veterinary emergency clinic. Follow these general tips with some good common sense, and you should have a happy holiday season.
The doctors and staff of The Animal Clinic pride themselves on bringing the highest quality of medical care and compassion for your dogs, cats, birds, and exotic pets. The Animal Clinic is an AAHA accredited veterinary hospital with state of the art technology that allows for best available diagnostics, therapeutics, and surgery. By placing emphasis on client education, preventative medicine, and early detection, our team is dedicated to helping you help your pets to have the best quality of life they can. Come see how we have helped to serve the veterinary needs of Charlotte county for over the past thirty years.

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Disclaimer: No article, journal, webpage, breeder, or friend of a friend can take the place of personalized, veterinary medical advice. If you have any questions, always consult with your veterinarian.

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