10 Holiday Season Pet Dangers

More on PawNation: aspca, holidays, pet dangers, pet poisons, pet toxins

dog begging trash pictureThe garbage can -- especially if it is overflowing with holiday trash -- contains big risks for your pet. Alamy.

Despite our best merry-making intentions, the holidays can be stressful for the whole family, pets included.

"The holidays are a dangerous time for pets," says Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM, at The Animal Medical Center in New York City, who specializes in oncology and small animal internal medicine.

So what can you do to ensure this really is the most wonderful time of the year for your cat or dog? We spoke with Dr. Hohenhaus to find out about the most common reasons pet owners visit her emergency clinic during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

Top Holiday Dangers

1. Trash. Sure, you probably know whether your cat or dog is a garbage forager by now, and are normally very vigilant about keeping it out of your pet's reach, but during this busy time of year when unaware company can throw off family routines, a "pet is more likely to get in the trash," says Dr. Hohenhaus. There they'll find foods and other objects they shouldn't -- but will want to -- eat.

2. Unusual foods. Overindulging your pet with fatty treats, like gravy or too much turkey or ham, can cause upset stomach and even pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Onions, garlic and scallions can damage dogs' red blood cells. Symptoms you can expect include lethargy and red discoloration in the dog's urine. And as you probably know, chocolates are a no-no.

3. Decorations. The worst combinations are cats and tinsel, and cats and wrapping-paper ribbon, says Dr. Hohenhaus. Curious cats are likely to swallow these enticements, "which causes their intestines to bunch up, and cuts into intestinal wall, so cats can't pass food through the intestinal wall normally," says Dr. Hohenhaus. "It requires surgery to cut these out surgically." "Don't have icicle tinsel on tree at all," she cautions.

Holiday lights are also risky temptation to pets, according to the Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine website, which recommends humans, "check cords for any signs of bite marks, loose or frayed wires, proximity to the tree's water supply, or evidence of short circuits." Electrical shock that could result can cause burns, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, loss of consciousness, and death, the website warns.

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