Put the Happy Back in Your Holiday: Keeping your pets healthy through Christmas

Put the Happy Back in Your Holiday: Keeping your pets healthy through Christmas

With Christmas trees, lights, all the ornaments and wonderfully fragrant feasts, Christmas time is beautiful but also potentially a stressful time and dangerous time for your pets.

“This is a season where we have a lot of foreign bodies because of all the different smells and textures that dogs like to play with,” said Dr. Leticia Fanucchi, a veterinarian at Washington State University, “dogs get exposed to a lot of things that are dangerous for them.”

She says curious dogs can swallow ornaments which can then shatter in their digestive system, causing internal punctures or obstructions. Additionally, holiday meals that include turkey can be tantalizing for dogs, but limit the treats and make sure they don’t get a hold of one of the bones. They are soft and can cause severe internal damage as well.

Symptoms of an obstruction may include lethargy, not eating and not going to the bathroom, and dogs should be taken to the vets as quickly as possible.

For dogs and cats that can’t seem to leave your Christmas tree alone, consider putting up a small barrier or pen around it. Additionally, putting it in an archway and tying a string from the top of the tree to the arch to keep it from falling over is an option as well.

She says be careful with your holiday lights as well. Make sure they are covered or tucked tight into the tree.

“A lot of puppies get super interested in flashing things, those cords can electrocute your pets,” she said.

They can also cause serious burns.

Holiday plants like poinsettias and amaryllis can be toxic to your pets, right along with chocolate and any food containing xylitol for your dog.

If you are hoping to leave your animals behind while you travel over the holiday, make sure they are ready.

“Make sure your pets are fully vaccinated, Bordetella is a concern during times of boarding,” Fanucchi said.

She asks that if you plan on putting a pet under the Christmas tree, to think hard about it and not rely on a shelter.

“Make sure you are ready for the commitment, for dogs and cats that can be a good 12-15 year commitment,” she said.

Another note: make sure you know the location of the emergency veterinarian in your area, your regular vets will likely be closed on the holiday.

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