Make sure pets have safe holiday, too

Published 4:40 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2023

It won’t be a happy holiday season if your pet gets sick, so the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine discusses some unhealthy holiday temptations and how to keep your pets safe.

If your dog received a stocking full of pet treats, make sure he doesn’t gobble them all up at once, making them hard to digest.  Unchewed pet treats can get stuck in the trachea (windpipe) or gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, and intestines).

If your dog is in obvious distress from eating too much too fast, call your veterinarian immediately.  Some telltale signs are drooling, choking, or vomiting.

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Take note of timing. If a bone or chew toy lodges in your dog’s stomach or intestines, the symptoms might not be immediate.  Hours to days later, he may vomit and have diarrhea, be less active, not want to eat, and have stomach pain.  If the blockage stays there too long, your dog may become very ill.

When in doubt, call your veterinarian, who may need to take x-rays, use an endoscope (a medical device with a special camera that can see inside the throat, stomach, and intestines), or even do abdominal surgery to see what and where the problem is and remove any pieces of bone or chew toy that are causing the blockage.

When decorating your tree, wrapping or unwrapping gifts, keep a close eye on where you leave leftover tinsel, string, and ribbons.  Your cat or dog may find these decorations irresistible because they look like easy-to-catch, sparkly, and wiggly prey.  In fact, they can cause serious stomach and intestinal damage.

Play it safe by keeping tinsel off the tree and collecting all ribbons and string after gifts are opened.

If you make salt-dough ornaments or homemade play dough, keep your pets away from them.  They contain a great deal of salt, which can be fatal to pets if eaten.  Be sure to warn children who may want to give a “treat” to Bowser or Kiki.  Putting it in perspective, one cup of salt is 48 teaspoons. A  10-pound pet can get sick after eating just ½ teaspoon of table salt, and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt can be fatal.

And don’t forget to keep chocolates and mints away from your pets, as they can also be fatal.