Thursday, November 19, 2020

Holiday Pet Safety Reminders for Pittsburgh, PA Pet Owners

How will you be spending the holidays this year? Whatever you do, we sincerely hope that you and your pet enjoy it in the safety and comfort of home. However, even your home might contain a variety of health hazards for your pet, including harmful foods, dangerous decorations, and more. While we can typically expect the holidays to go off without a hitch, there are always risks and we want you to be aware of them. The last thing any pet parent wants is to have to make a trip to the vet ER, especially on the holidays! That’s why we’ve provided some important tips you can follow to minimize your pet’s risks as much as possible.

What Holiday Foods Should be Off-Limits to Pets?

All of them! Well, just about. It’s generally best to avoid giving your pet any table scraps, even if it
happens to be just a few pieces of chicken. Still, there are a few different foods that can be very
harmful to your pet if ingested, including:

  • Meat bones - Bones can cause choking in pets, and they can also splinter into sharp fragments and injure the esophagus, stomach, and intestines.
  • Grease and butter - Any foods that are greasy, fatty, and full of butter are bound to be too rich for your pet. This includes greasy meats, cakes, and pies.
  • Onions, garlic, leeks, and chives - These tasty veggies are great in salads, casseroles, and other dishes, but they can be extremely harmful to pets! Whether they are raw or cooked, these members of the alium family are quite toxic to animals.
  • Raisins and grapes - No matter how they come prepared, grapes and raisins should never be on your pet’s menu. Ingesting enough grapes or raisins can result in kidney failure.
  • Chocolate - Whether it’s milk chocolate, white chocolate, or dark chocolate, it should be strictly off-limits to your pet. It’s also important to know that the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is! 70% cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and baking chocolate contain high amounts of caffeine and theobromine, which can cause heart arrhythmia, muscle tremors, and possibly even seizures.
  • Assorted nuts - This includes macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans, and cashews. These nuts are rich in fat and likely to give your pet an upset stomach, so don’t a bowl of nuts sitting where your pet can reach it!
  • Sugar-free treats - This includes cookies, muffins, candies, and gum. Anything that is sugar free, including some brands of peanut butter, might contain xylitol, a sweetener that is highly toxic to pets. While humans can digest xylitol just fine, pets are at risk of serious illness or even death if they ingest too much.
  • Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages - While we doubt that you or any of your guests will be giving your pet a taste of wine or soda, leaving a glass unattended can result in your pet getting more than just a taste! Keep drinks well out of your pet’s reach at all times.
If your pet ingests any of the foods listed above, please contact our hospital or reach out to the Pet
Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 for assistance.

Decorations to Avoid or Use with Care

Some holiday decorations can be a real hazard for dogs and cats, so avoiding them or finding a safer alternative is important. Here are a few decorations we highly recommend avoiding to minimize risk:

  • Candles - Obviously, open flames are always a gamble, especially when you have a curious animal or two in your home. Our pets don’t understand the dangers of open flames, so consider using artificial candles instead, or using candles only in places/situations where your pet is not nearby.
  • Mistletoe - Mistletoe is highly toxic to pets if ingested. If you have mistletoe in your home, make sure your pet can’t reach it!
  • Strands of lights - Some pets like to chew, and if your pet happens to be one of those, consider placing lights strategically so your pet won’t be able to get at the cords, or invest in plastic covers to protect the cords. Dogs and cats can sustain injuries to their mouth, or worse, if they chew on light cords.
  • Plastic window decals - These can be risky if they are placed inside on the windows and mirrors. If a decal peels off the surface (cold windows can sometimes be resistant to adhesives) and ends up on the floor, it could become a choking hazard if your pet gobbles it up.
  • Tinsel - Tinsel is very slippery and any shiny pieces that end up on the floor may also end up in your pet’s stomach. If your dog or cat has a knack for eating inedible objects, we’d suggest using something else with which to decorate your tree, such as garland or a strand of beads to wrap securely around the tree.
  • Glass ornaments - Glass ornaments are extremely fragile and when they break, they leave thousands of tiny fragments behind, which can injure your pet’s paws. Look for shatterproof ornaments to place on your tree; they are just as beautiful as traditional glass ornaments, but much safer!

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