Christmas is the time of the year to enjoy good times with our families, including our pets. For everyone to enjoy the festivities, we need to be aware of the dangers our pets can be exposed to. Nothing will spoil your holidays more than a visit to the emergency veterinarian, or to see your pet suffering during the New Year’s fireworks celebration.
Good food is part of every holiday celebration. One common problem is giving our pets table food, which could cause a life-threatening condition known as pancreatitis. Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes overwhelmed when trying to assist in the digestion of rich and fatty foods.
Another common threat is chocolate. Chocolate toxicity depends on the type of chocolate ingested and the size of the pet. To be safe, it’s best to err on the side of caution and consider all chocolates and amounts as potentially hazardous.
Decorations can be hazardous in many aspects: Some pets might drink the Christmas tree water, while others might be tempted to chew on ornaments and electrical cords. Ornaments should be as pet-proof as possible, and be placed where pets can’t access them. Electrical cords should be hidden and placed safely, in order to avoid your pets chewing on them and potential electrocution.
We love to go to parties and family reunions during the holidays, but our pets might not enjoy them as much as we do. They can suffer during the party because of the excessive noise, can become anxious while we are away, or become terrified from fireworks. We can help our pets by finding a quiet room in the house, away from the commotion. Closing the drapes will shield them from the illumination caused by fireworks, and turning on the television or radio may help mask the noise.
If environment modification is not enough, please contact your veterinarian for help. There are medications available that are specifically formulated to help our pets cope with noise aversions. Safety and efficacy profiles for these medications provide us with a valuable tool to help our pets without causing sedation, and allow them to enjoy the Christmas season as well.
By Dr. Wilmer Bustelo, contributing writer and veterinarian at Woodstock Veterinary Hospital.