UNDATED -- Holidays can be stressful enough without an emergency trip to the veterinarian. The University of Oklahoma is offering safety tips to keep your pet safe and your holiday on track.
Tempted to give a friend or relative a furry bundle of love for Christmas? Resist! Veterinarians and pet advocates caution against giving a pet as a gift during the holidays.
Instead, consider giving a book about pet care or the pet of choice and go shopping with the family after the stress and excitement of Christmas has passed. New pets need time and attention, and a quieter time of year is a better time to introduce a new family member to the mix.
When choosing a pet toy for your pet or someone else, think safety first. Select a toy that the pet can't chew up or swallow. Make sure the toy is non-toxic and doesn't have any small parts.
Chew toys are good choices because they help prevent gum disease and decay. Toys that encourage owner-pet interaction – like balls to throw – are also good choices. Once you give your pet a toy, be sure to play with them.
Other holiday safety tips for pets:
- Holiday lights, ornaments, tinsel, ornament hooks are very attractive to pets. If a pet chews and/or swallows any of these items, it may damage its mouth and obstruct or perforate the esophagus, stomach, or intestine.
- Lighted candles are very popular during the holidays. If left unattended, a curious pet can burn itself or start a fire. Fireplaces are also hazards for pets. When you start a fire in the fireplace or light a candle, be sure an adult is supervising the flames.
- Electrical items like tree lights, extension cords, and electric toys pose the threat of an electric shock if chewed on by pets.
- Keep tree ornaments high on the tree. Use ribbons to tie ornaments on the tree versus metal hooks. Cloth tree skirts can be used around the tree. Remember to supervise children and pets around the tree or any lighted, potentially dangerous decorations or toys.
- Plants used to decorate the home during the holidays may be toxic. Some of the more common toxic varieties are mistletoe (including the berries) and holly. If you bring these plants into your home, keep them out of the reach of your pets.
- Foods like turkey, chocolate and alcohol are potentially hazardous for pets. If you share the turkey, chicken or ham with your pet, be sure not to serve old meat and/or poultry bones.
- Spoiled meat can harbor preformed toxins of bacteria like Staph and Clostridia that may result in vomiting, depression, and bloody diarrhea if eaten. If a botulism toxin is consumed, muscle paralysis, coma and respiratory failure may result.
- Turkey carcasses are often shared with pets. Cooked poultry bones easily splinter when chewed and can lacerate or perforate the pet's mouth, esophagus and/or intestine.
- Chocolate is a food item frequently enjoyed during the holiday season. A pet can easily consume enough chocolate to result in illness.
- Often served during the holidays, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant in pets. A 30 pound dog may be drunk after just two tablespoons of whiskey. While under the influence of alcohol, otherwise docile pets may inflict serious bites and scratches to you or others in your home.
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