Think of pets during the Christmas season

The Christmas season is here; a time for giving and receiving, helping those in need, and getting together with family and friends. During this busy time, it is important to remember our pets and include them in the festivities, but at the same time take necessary precautions to keep them healthy and safe.

When decorating for Christmas, be cautious about leaving any strings, ribbons, or tinsel laying around for our feline friends to play with. Many cats will simply play with the string, but it is very dangerous if your cat intentionally or accidentally ingests one of these items. String-like materials can become wrapped in the small intestine and cause either a blockage or a tear in the intestinal tract leading to a life-threatening infection and possible death of a portion of the intestinal tract.

Be cautious with ornaments that might be attractive to your dog. Glass ornaments resemble a ball, and your pup may attempt to play with the ornament and either swallow glass pieces or cut themselves unintentionally. Some pets like ferrets, rabbits, or cats may be attracted to lights and electrical cords. If a pet chews on these cords, it may receive a bad burn in its mouth and an electric shock that can cause fluid build up in the lungs. Be cautious about letting your ferrets and rabbits run loose during the holidays and consider plastic tubing to cover the cords that are close to the ground.

Christmas plants that may be toxic to your pet include poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe. Poinsettias can cause significant drooling from mouth irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea. Hollies and Mistletoe can also cause stomach upset leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Call your veterinarian for suggestions if your pet ingests one of these plants

Use caution with chocolate when baking Christmas cookies. Chocolate is toxic to pets! Chocolate contains a substance called theophylline that can lead to tremors, seizures, weakness, and death. The most dangerous type of chocolate is baking chocolate followed by dark chocolate. Make sure not to leave your chocolate candy out in bowls or on the kitchen counters while baking! If you know your pet has ingested a large amount of chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately.

During parties, if your pets are highly anxious, consider leaving them in their kennels or boarding them to avoid the stress. Also, it is important to inform your guests to not give treats freely to your pets.

Table scraps can cause upset stomach, vomiting, and sometimes diarrhea. Do not leave alcoholic drinks lying around in reach of your pet. Alcoholic drinks can cause central nervous depression, lethargy, coma, and death. It takes much less alcohol for a pet to ingest to become intoxicated so do not be tempted to share your drinks with them!

During this time of giving, consider not only offering a gift or donation in honor of your pet, but giving of your time as well. The local shelters are always in need of food, bedding, and monetary donations. They also may be looking for volunteers to help care for the multitude of animals they are responsible for on a daily basis. If you know of a family who needs help this season, consider not only helping them but also the family’s pets. Offer them a gift certificate to a local veterinary office or bring them a bag of food, treats, or toys for their pets.

Our clinic accepts donations all year for the “Bigfoot Fund” in honor of our clinic mascot who passed away a few years back. This fund is set up through the Lakeshore Humane Society to help stray and injured pets with the care that they need.

This year we are raffling tickets for two great gift baskets to raise money for the Bigfoot Fund. Stop in and help support this great cause at our office located at 264 Lake Shore Drive West, Dunkirk. We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season! Merry Christmas from all of us at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic!