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Posted on 10-08-2014

Serving Up the Hazards

The smell of the feast is sure to have tails wagging this holiday season, but busy crowds of family and friends and an abundance of food may present safety hazards for your pets. Manchaca Village Veterinary Care offers the following tips to keep pets safe.

The holiday feast is for people—not pets. Table scraps may seem like a fun way to include a pet in the festivities, but many foods are poisonous to pets including onions, garlic, raisins and grapes.

Fats in people food are toxic, which include butter, oils, meat drippings, grease, and meat scraps. Fatty foods may cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) when ingested, especially by dogs. Certain breeds, miniature Schnauzers in particular, are more likely to develop pancreatitis than other breeds.

Just because it’s dead, doesn’t mean it’s not deadly. A turkey carcass left in an open trash container or one that’s easily opened could prove deadly if the family pet finds it. A pet that “discovers” the carcass can quickly eat so much that it causes pancreatitis, if not an obstruction from bone fragments. Dispose of meat carcasses in a covered, tightly secured container (or a trash can behind a closed, locked door) along with anything used to wrap or tie the meat and any bones left on plates—these are also hazards and can be very tempting for pets.

Desserts and pets don’t mix. Most people understand that chocolate is poisonous to pets, and that the darker it is, the more deadly it is. Baker’s chocolate is extremely dangerous to pets. Many dogs find it tempting, and will sniff it out and eat it if they find it. An artificial sweetener called Xylitol has also been shown to be just as deadly to dogs. Xylitol is a common sweetener used in baked goods and chewing gums.

Want to treat Fido? Buy a treat that is made just for him. Pets will enjoy the treat just as much as anything else, and it can spare a holiday spent at the emergency clinic.

While I've got you, this is a good opportunity to touch on other holiday-related dangers as well. For some pets, houseguests can be scary. Pets that are shy or excitable around new people may have a hard time during the holidays when new people are visiting. If a dog or cat can be overwhelmed when people come over, they should stay in another room or in a crate with a favorite toy so they’re out of the frenzy and feel safe. Boarding may also be a smart option to remove them completely from this upsetting atmosphere. If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, talk to us about possible solutions to this common problem.

For pets who are comfortable around guests, they should be watched closely when houseguests are entering or leaving. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost. So this is a particularly good time to make sure your pet has proper identification—particularly microchip identification with up-to-date registered information, so that if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned to you.

Lastly, Fire, kids and pets make a bad combination. Dinner by candlelight can provide an elegant atmosphere for a holiday meal, but where there’s a flame, there’s the opportunity for disaster. Children and pets should be kept away from any open flame or fire. If their safety can’t be ensured in the holiday commotion, you might consider battery-operated candles. And forget the fireplace, no amount of elegance or cozy room will make up for an injured loved one or a house that’s burnt to the ground.

For more tips from the AVMA, check out this video:
 

Dr. Sandra D. Ontiveros
Manchaca Village Veterinary Care
512-VET-CARE (512-838-2273)

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