Health & Care > Pet care, safety and insurance > Guidelines to Prevent Holiday Trip to Vet

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12/04/2009 21:33:00 PM by unettf   Send Message to unettf  1352  views, category: Pet care, safety and insurance view all blogs
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Emergency veterinary clinic are often pretty exciting places, even over the holidays. While staying busy makes the time go by more quickly, I'd bet that the staff of most emergency clinics would rather not spend their time trying to save the lives of pets who may not have been there if their families had been a little more cautious. As any veterinarian will tell you, prevention is always better than a cure.
 
And that's why every year at this time I offer a list of the most common holiday hazards for pets: feeding problems, foreign-body ingestion and accidental poisoning. Let the veterinary staff play cards this year instead! Avoid emergencies by steering your pet clear of these holiday hazards, which sicken or kill countless pets at this time of year:
 
-- Food dangers. Anything that's rich, fatty or spicy can trigger a bout of intestinal upset for your pet. For some animals, a fatty treat can trigger a serious inflammation of the pancreas or intestine, either of which can kill.
 
What to avoid? While a little bit of meat won't hurt, steer clear of the fatty parts and the poultry skin, which also harbors too much fat.
 
Watch those candy dishes, too, and keep them out of reach from your pets. No candy is "good" for pets, and chocolate can be lethal.
 
-- Foreign-body ingestion. Cooked poultry bones are prone to splintering, sending shards through the animal's intestines. Should one pierce through the lining, the result can be deadly peritonitis.
 
While cooked poultry bones are out, some beef bones, raw or cooked, can be safely substituted, under supervision. Knuckle bones (for large dogs) and oxtails (for small ones) stand up to vigorous gnawing, providing your pet with hours of messy fun. Check at the meat counter for these treats. Throw out bones after a couple hours of chewing, or if they get broken into pieces that can be swallowed.
 
The Christmas tree is full of hazards for dogs and cats. Tinsel can be an appealing target for play, but if ingested, it can twist up the intestines. This is a particular danger to cats and kittens, who seem to find tinsel -- along with yarn, ribbon and string -- especially appealing to eat.
 
Ornaments, too, can be deadly in the mouths -- and stomachs -- of pets, and even the water at the base of the tree contains secretions that can at the very least cause a stomachache. Strings of light are no good for chewing, and the whole tree can come down on a cat climbing in its branches.
 
The best way to handle tree hazards is by making the room with the Christmas tree off-limits to your pets unless you're there to keep them out of trouble. If that's not possible, consider putting some kind of barrier up to keep pets away when you can't be watching.
 
-- Poisonings. Holiday plants such as mistletoe may look intriguing to your pet, but they're also toxic, as are the bulbs of the amaryllis plant. (Long the poster child for holiday poisoning, the falsely maligned poinsettia can be safely welcomed into the pet-lover's home.)
 
Be sure holiday greenery passes the safety test, and don't let the whirl of the holidays allow you to let down your guard when it comes to protecting your pet from toxic household chemicals.
 
The final part of preventive care is knowing what to do in an emergency. Do you know where to take your pets when your regular veterinary hospital is closed for a holiday? Do you have the phone number? Take a few minutes now to make sure you have the answers, just in case.



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