Threats To Our Pets Rise During The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

As the thermometer starts dipping, threats to our pets could start rising. Costly visits to the vet are substantial during the holidays of November, December and January. Yes, we're talking about Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa and New Year.  But not to worry, today's post provides some of the top warnings and recommendations from pet organizations, including the American Kennel Club, PetMD, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [ASPCA] RedRover and PetFirst.

Dipping below Freezing

When temperatures dip below 40 degrees, pet owners are advised to reduce  outside exposure for puppies, elderly animals, and pets with diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease, according to a news release from RedRover.

Pets are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite just like humans. Hypothermia symptoms may include shivering, whining, acting lethargic or weak, decreased heart rate, and fur and skin that are cold to the touch.

Frostbite is less obvious and may take as long as a week before symptoms appear, if your pooches are kept outside. The signs to look for are ice on the body, accompanied by shivering and bright red tissue. It often appears on the paw pads, tails and ears. When these symptoms show signs of hypothermia or frostbite, contact your veterinarian immediately. The home remedies are protecting the paws with a pet balm or wax, or booties.

Holiday Foods and Treats

Foods with high fat content, such as turkey skin, butter and other ingredients used in baking can make your pets very ill, according to a news release from the AKC. “Keep those foods out of reach during your holiday parties” and inform guests they are not to feed your pet. Large amounts of high-fat foods can cause pancreatitis, and vet bills can easily escalate to thousands of dollars.   

Unbaked bread or holiday cookie dough is an item pet owners may overlook. PetMD notes that once the food items are ingested "the stomach acts as an artificial oven that basically metabolizes the yeast [from the unbaked dough] into ethanal and carbon dioxide."

The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center receives the bulk of its calls about bread dough poisoning during Christmas and Easter, so be extra vigilant over the holidays. So, no home remedies here, except for keeping your pet removed from the kitchen or other holiday cooking prep areas.

Holiday Decorations

Dogs and cats are attracted to shiny things like tinsel and glass bulbs. They may chew on them or digest them in whole.

“Avoid using food for decorations,” says the AKC. Popcorn and cranberries strung on thread or string can be a choking hazard for dogs and cats and “can cause [intestinal] blockages which can require surgery.”

“Ingestions” by pets are the cause of many insurance claims, and they are truly pricey during the holidays notes Katie Blakeley, CEO of PetFirst.  “The ill effects can range from mild nausea to surgery or even death,” states Blakely.

New Year's Distractions

As the countdown begins for New Year, be mindful that thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat's intestines, if ingested, perhaps even necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to their sensitive ears. Most pets are fearful of fireworks and collective  human excitement, so it's advised to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as the new year approaches

While today's post doesn't provide all the answers, it is a starting point for pet owners to start thinking about how to protect your pets during the upcoming holidays. For more comprehensive advice and recommendations, please refer to the AKC, the ASCPA, PetMD, RedRover and PetFirst.

However, word to the wise, if any of the symptoms noted here appear on your pet, and you been successful with home remedies in the past, it's always best to check in with your veternarian first before proceeding.

And on that note, may your holidays this year be happy and peaceful, devoid of any of these potential threats.


Primary Source: Post-Gazette