Happy Holidays, Healthy Pets
Sunday, December 23, 2012
[Philadelphia, PA; December 19, 2012] – “Keeping pets healthy and safe during the holidays can be more challenging than you’d think,” said Dr. Kenneth Drobatz, chief of Emergency and Critical Care at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet). “But if you take a few preventative measures you’ll make it through the season without a trip to the ER.”
Dr. Lisa Murphy, assistant professor of toxicology at New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large animal hospital in Kennett Square, warns, “Certain plants can be toxic to pets if ingested, especially cats. Therefore keep all plants in locations that pets cannot get to.”
Dr. Drobatz offers some tips about food, gifts and decorations to keep your pets healthy – and out of the emergency room – during your holiday festivities.
Maintain your pet’s regular diet. Treats of turkey, ham, gravy, cookies and other goodies can lead to gastrointestinal upsets like diarrhea and vomiting. Be sure, too, to dispose of all bones carefully so pets can’t get to them.
Poultry bones are particularly dangerous. They splinter and can cut the intestines or get lodged in your dog’s or cat’s esophagus.
Guilty human pleasures, like chocolate and alcohol, can be toxic to pets.
Keep chocolate, nuts, and alcoholic beverages out-of-reach from your pets as they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or a condition called pancreatitis, which can be deadly. Additionally grapes and raisins can be toxic to pets as well.
Give toys that are too big to be swallowed or get caught in the animal’s throat and don’t give anything with a string attached. Remove bells or squeakers. All of these things can be swallowed.
Deck the halls
Tinsel, extra wires for decorations and glass ornaments all pose an arsenal of potential pet problems. Tinsel cuts the intestines and cause severe injuries. Electric wires look especially appetizing to puppies and kittens, and, if they succeed in chewing them, they can suffer burns or shock that can cause seizures, loss of consciousness and fluid build-up in the lungs. Glass ornaments and ornament hooks are hazardous as they break easily. Pets can ingest the splinters, cutting their mouth, esophagus or intestines.
In addition, dough ornaments, because of high salt content, are not good for pets and ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea and in severe cases, seizures.
Dr. Murphy gives a run-down on poisonous holiday plants to watch out for:
Poinsettias: It is the thick sap that you see when you break a stem that is toxic, but that toxicity is grossly over-rated. A healthy dog or cat who has eaten some of the Poinsettia plants will just vomit, be a bit quiet and exhibit a loss of appetite. Restrict food and water for a few hours. Symptoms should only last an hour or two. If they persist, consult with your vet.
Mistletoe: The little berries are the most toxic part, and still fairly mild. If ingested, the animal would display the same symptoms: vomiting, lack of appetite, depression. The risk would be dehydration. Young or old animals may need some treatment.
Holly: Risks with holly are a double whammy: spines on leaves are sharp and can cause some mechanical injury. They also have some chemical content that is toxic. Eating the leaves may cause vomiting and diarrhea, and may be a bit more severe than with the other plants. The animal can also drool or foam at the mouth from the injury to the mouth, tongue and lips. You can try to rinse their mouth out with water or give them some water or milk to drink to sooth the mouth.
Yew: Though Yew is not typically brought into the house, it is important to know that if you choose to use the greens of this bush, they are incredibly cardiotoxic.
In case of an emergency…
Despite our efforts to keep our pets safe, some of them will get into something they shouldn’t. As with any potential emergency that could take place year-round, getting immediate attention from your veterinarian is very important. Remember to keep your primary care veterinarian’s phone number and address placed in a visible location – like on your refrigerator – and be sure everyone in your family knows and understands what Fido and Fifi can and cannot have.
If you notice that a pet has gotten into something potentially hazardous, call your primary care veterinarian immediately and be prepared to describe what the pet has ingested and/or gotten into.
Often, practices close up shop around the holidays so have an emergency facility phone number on hand, as well and posted in the same location as your primary care veterinarian. Penn Vet’s Emergency Service is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In an emergency, call 215-746-V911 (215-746-8911).
Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine is one of the world's premier veterinary schools. Founded in 1884, the School was built on the concept of Many Species, One Medicine. The birthplace of veterinary specialties, the School serves a distinctly diverse array of animal patients, from pets to horses to farm animals at our two campuses. In Philadelphia, on Penn's campus, are the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital for companion animals, as well as classrooms, laboratories and the School's administrative offices. The large-animal facility, New Bolton Center, in Kennett Square, Pa., encompasses hospital facilities for the care of horses and food animals as well as diagnostic laboratories serving the agriculture industry. The School has successfully integrated scholarship and scientific discovery with all aspects of veterinary medical education.
Visit us on-line at www.vet.upenn.edu