'Tis the season

Dr. Kate Lawton

With the craziness of the holiday season comes a variety of ways you could find yourself spending an evening sitting in an emergency veterinary hospital with your pet. To help prevent any yuletide casualties, here is a compilation of some of the most common mishaps of the holidays.

Cats love tinsel and that's a fact. However, tinsel can easily become a linear foreign body — once ingested it can get stuck in the intestinal tract, causing severe vomiting and abdominal discomfort. This can quickly progress to an obstruction and the need for immediate surgery. If you have a cat, please do not use tinsel on your tree.

Everyone loves chocolate, including dogs. But chocolate is toxic in large doses and can have severe effects on your dog’s heart and central nervous system. Please be especially cautious if you are using dark baker's chocolate as it contains an extremely high concentration of cocoa.

Oh Christmas tree! Oh Christmas tree! How much cats do adore thee! Please be mindful that cats find low hanging ornaments very enticing, especially highly fragile family heirlooms. They also enjoy lapping water out of the tree stand. While most cats will not be adversely affected, some may experience an upset tummy. And please make sure your tree is secure if your cat thinks he is an acrobat.

With the beautiful snowfall comes the shoveling and the ice melt. Dogs and cats alike find licking salt from between their toes mighty tasty. Be sure to wipe off their paws when coming inside. Also wipe your own boots as indoor cats will take advantage of the melted puddles.

Antifreeze is as sweet as eggnog but extremely toxic to your pet. Cats are especially susceptible and it only takes one teaspoon to become a lethal dose. Once ingested, antifreeze severely depresses the central nervous system and quickly advances to kidney failure. Please be sure to store antifreeze appropriately and clean up thoroughly after each use.

While decorating your home with holiday plants, please remember that cats love any and all plant material. Poinsettias and mistletoe are not as toxic as some people believe, but may cause vomiting if ingested in large amounts. Holly can also be quite attractive to cats despite the prickly leaves. All parts of the plant are potentially toxic. Please only use these plants to decorate areas of your home that are inaccessible to your feline.

Please call us immediately if your pet can’t resist one of these temptations during the holidays. We wish all of our patients and clients a safe and healthy winter season.