Be careful how you deck your halls! The holiday season is generally a time of family togetherness in which even our pets participate. Our thoughts generally are far from thoughts of injury; however, we must be aware of some important seasonal hazards in order to insure a happy holiday season.
Ribbons and tinsel
These stringlike decorations are of special interest to playful cats and kittens that see these materials as toys (or prey) to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing pose no health threats, chewing and swallowing do, as these strings or “linear foreign bodies” can catch in the GI tract, leading to bunching of intestine as the body tries in vain to move the string or ribbon through. This is a life-threatening condition requiring surgery for correction. It is best to find a different material to decorate a tree because it is almost impossible to keep a curious kitten out of a tree. Avoid using string as a toy.
Electric light cords
These are also tempting to cats that like to play with string, as well as to puppies that are teething and interested in chewing. If a pet bites through an electrical cord, it could result in a severe burn to the tongue, which causes the pet’s lungs to fill with fluid, causing respiratory distress. This is also an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.
When the snow starts flying this season, be aware that traditional rock salt can be harmful to your pet’s foot pads. The salt causes painful skin irritation between the toes and on the pads. Use a pet-safe type of rock salt or use sand or cat litter to prevent slips. If there is more than a foot of snow outdoors, do not let outdoor cats or small dogs outside unattended. They can get lost in the snowdrifts. Keep your pets away from the snowblowers when they are in use.