Sunday, October 4, 2009

Top 10 pet health tips for the holidays

(ARA) - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Kwanzaa – no matter what you’re celebrating, pet owners need to remember to keep their pets safe and healthy for the holidays.

“Veterinarians often see an uptick in the number of problematic calls during the holiday season,” explains Dr. Larry R. Corry, AVMA president. “Whether it’s an exposure to chocolate or fatty foods or pets upset due to unexpected guests or costumed visitors late at night, the holidays can present problems for pets. The AVMA urges all pet owners to include the health and safety of their pets in any plans for the holidays.”

Here are the AVMA’s top 10 pet tips for holiday safety:

1. Be wary of holiday decorations; pets often consume them. “The animal raids the Christmas tree, for example, and this can be unhealthy for the pet and very upsetting for the pet owners,” explains Corry. “If they consume enough tinsel or other decorations, it can cause a blockage that requires surgery.”

2. Flowers are another common holiday feature that can result in an emergency visit. Poinsettias, Amaryllis and mistletoe are on the list of common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to house pets who decide to eat them, Corry says.

3. Just like people, some pets are better at dealing with houseguests than others. If you know your pet has a problem with visitors, work with your veterinarian for solutions. For severe problems, your veterinarian may recommend medications or even boarding the animal.

4. Don’t let your pet climb the Christmas tree. If the tree falls over, your pet could be injured. Consider tying the tree to the ceiling or a doorframe using fishing line.

5. Cover Christmas tree water to keep animals from drinking it. The sap from live Christmas trees can make your pet sick.

6. Many people believe that people food makes good treats for their pets, but this isn’t the case. Many common ingredients in a holiday feast – like onions, garlic, chocolate and artificial sweeteners – are poisonous to pets. And dogs that consume an excessive amount of fatty foods, by cleaning a turkey carcass pulled from the trash, for example, can develop a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis.

7. Whether they are Halloween candies or Christmas chocolate, keep sweets out of your pet’s reach, particularly while you’re out. A pet that consumes chocolates while you’re away at work, for example, might be too sick for your veterinarian to save by the time you get home.

8. Unplug decorations while you’re not around. Cats and dogs are often tempted to chew electrical cords.

9. Keep any gift that includes human food out of a pet’s reach. With their sensitive sense of smell, dogs and cats can find those wrapped treats and open them when you’re not around.

10. Candles are a common part of many holiday celebrations. Make sure that you keep lit candles out of a pet’s reach, because the animal could light themselves, or your home, on fire.

The AVMA offers a great deal of information on its Web site,, including a free brochure on common household hazards and a free video about common household poisons.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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