Take precautions to keep your pets safe this season
JANESVILLE Pets can be just like kids.
When they see something new, they get excited. They investigate.
"Unfortunately, they'll usually check stuff out with their mouths," said Dr. Mike Hotchkiss of the Janesville Veterinary Clinic.
That can put them at risk during the holidays.
"We definitely see more of these types of incidents this time of year and closer to the holidays," he said.
Hotchkiss discussed the biggest threats to pets during the holiday season:
-- Tinsel, ribbon or any sort of string objects. Skip tinsel on the Christmas tree, keep ribbons on gifts where playful kittens can't get to them and put ribbons away in a safe place.
"Any sort of string objects are likely to get wound up on the (pet's) intestines, where they can cause some major problems. Because tinsel is long and stringy, it's got the potential to wrap around other things in the pet's belly, where it can get stuck plus act as a saw and cut through their intestines," Hotchkiss said.
-- Electrical cords. Pet cats, dogs and rabbits can chew through electrical cords running to all sorts of Christmas decorations.
"So, we see some electrical burns in their mouths," he said.
-- Glass ornaments. Pets can break these while batting them with their paws, resulting in cuts.
"Make sure those ornaments go to the top of the tree, skip them or make sure they are well secured to branches so they're less likely to fall and break," Hotchkiss said.
-- Potpourris and candles. Heated potpourri and burning candles can cause burns if pets get into them.
"We haven't seen any major burns, but some animals' fur has been pretty singed from a candle when pets are too excited about checking things out and not paying attention to the tail by the candle," he said.
-- Blocks of baking chocolate. Exposure to highly concentrated chocolate can cause an increased heart rate, hyperactivity, excitability and anxiousness in pets.
"In most cases, it probably is going to work itself out as long as the pet is healthy," Hotchkiss said.
For an extraordinarily high exposure to chocolate, vomiting can be induced or activated charcoal used to minimize absorption.
"In most cases, the times where we can see the potential for death from chocolate is if the animal already has some underlying disease such as a heart problem or something else that can push them over the edge," he said.
-- Table scraps. High fat foods can cause pancreatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and a painful belly.
"The food isn't really the problem, it's like with anything—there needs to be moderation," Hotchkiss said.
-- Turkey and ham remnants. Turkey and ham bones can break teeth or get stuck in or scrape intestines as they pass through.
Plants, flowers, trees
-- Lilies. Often found in large tabletop centerpieces, lilies can be toxic to a pet's kidneys when ingested, Hotchkiss said.
-- Christmas tree water. Some fertilizers added to the water can cause the pet that drinks it to have an upset stomach. Be sure to provide plenty of other fresh drinking water for your pets.
To keep your pets safe this holiday season, Hotchkiss recommends supervising your pets and surveying your home for hazards.
"It comes down to pet proofing things and maybe not setting things up the way you'd like to," he said.
"If you love tinsel, it's safer not to have it on the (Christmas) tree if you have cats," Hotchkiss said.
"If you like presents under the tree, you need to barricade pets from getting into them," he said.
"It's all about pet proofing the house, knowing some risks and being cautious," Hotchkiss said.