by Jacqueline Nicoll, K & Co. Marketing –
The festive holiday season brings families together, filling homes with energy and cheer. However, amidst the excitement, additional pet risks can present themselves. Food and plant poisoning, anxiety induced by fireworks, and the ingestion of chicken bones are some of the main cases veterinary teams encounter on a day-to-day basis in their clinics during this time. Understanding these risks is essential for a happy and hazard-free holiday season for our animal friends.
One often underestimated risk during the holidays is the ingestion of human food by pets. Lynne Brault, a Veterinary Technician in Sidney, emphasizes that this danger is more prevalent than imagined. Cases of chocolate poisoning, particularly during the holidays, are alarmingly common. Additionally, certain plants – often present as gifts or decorations during the holiday season – can be toxic to dogs and cats. Plants such as holly, mistletoe, poinsettia and lilies can have deadly side effects and should be kept out of reach. Brault advises caution, especially during holiday gatherings, as increased cooking activities can lead to accidental ingestion of harmful foods like garlic, onions, or any sugary goodies that could contain xylitol. To prevent chocolate intoxication, it’s simply best to adopt a policy of storing it in areas that your pet cannot reach – even the jumpers! Don’t leave it sitting out.
Fireworks, a hallmark of many holiday celebrations, can cause immense stress and anxiety for both pets and wildlife. Although fireworks can be unpredictable, it’s a safe bet to say you’ll hear them on occasions such as New Year’s Eve, so there are certain prevention tactics you can take. Brault, who has been practising for five years as a Veterinary Technician, recommends consulting a veterinarian if your pets are prone to fireworks-induced anxiety, as various options like calming supplements are now available to alleviate their stress. Creating a designated safe space within the home, equipped with familiar toys and treats and accompanied by soft music, can help pets cope. This is also a stress management tactic for animals that don’t do well with large gatherings of new people. “It’s best not to overwhelm your pet when they are scared or anxious. Dogs and cats feed on our own energy, so if you are stressed, your pet is likely to pick up on that,” says Brault.
Lastly, one of the most frequent cases seen by veterinary professionals during the holidays involves chicken bone ingestion. “I have seen too many patients die from swallowing chicken bones,” Brault said sadly. She advises: “The worst thing you can do is to try to induce vomiting as this causes a much higher risk for esophageal tears and can be fatal.” Instead, proper waste management is especially important during the holidays, ensuring no accidental ingestion occurs. If your pet could have had access to chicken bones and signs of ingestion are observed, such as vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, lethargy or trouble defecating, contacting your veterinarian is suggested.
Implementing preventive measures such as secure storage of toxic foods, creating safe havens during fireworks displays or larger group gatherings, and maintaining a pet-proof environment can go a long way in safeguarding our pets during the festivities. This ensures that they don’t unnecessarily end up in the emergency room during one of the most joyous times of the year, and a blissful time is had by all in mounds of gravy and safe-to-eat chicken meat.