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December 2011

A Safe Holiday Season for Your Pet!

As festivities increase over the holiday season, so do the number of sick pets at veterinary clinics. Although you may enjoy the plethora of holiday food, trees, decorations and mistletoe, your pets may not. Use the tips below to ensure your pets have a safe and happy holiday season!

According to Dr. Ann Sherwood Zieser, Middleton Veterinary Clinic, the increased number of sick pets over the holidays is mostly due to the ingestion of bones or table scraps. Dr. Sherwood Zieser points out that bones can lead to gastrointestinal upset, blockage or a rupture of the intestines. Also, if your pet takes in high levels of fat, its pancreas can become overwhelmed, leading to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), a painful and potentially dangerous condition.

Still want to give your cat and dog eating cookiespet a holiday treat? Dr. Sherwood suggests low fat and low sodium items for treat ideas. Be sure to avoid anything with onions, macadamia nuts, chocolate, grapes, raisins, and artificial sweetener xylitol.

Don’t forget to take your pet into consideration when selecting the family tree, decorations and holiday plants! If you have rambunctious pets, Dr. Sherwood Zieser recommends securing your Christmas tree to the wall and using non-breakable ornaments. Tinsel and ribbon should be avoided due to the risk of ingestion, especially for cats. Chewing on pine needles or drinking the tree water can cause mechanical irritation and an upset stomach as well.

Certain holiday plants can also be harmful if chewed on or ingested by your pet. Poinsettias, holly and mistletoe can cause oral irritation, ulceration and gastric upset as well as vomiting, diarrhea and a decreased appetite.

Pets can be overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Try to maintain as normal of a routine as possible with your pets over the holidays. Consult with your veterinarian to learn about behavior modification techniques and medications available to help decrease anxiety in pets.

If you suspect ingestion of anything listed above, contact your veterinarian for advice on how to proceed. It is also helpful to know the number of local emergency clinics for after hour emergencies. To find a WVMA member in your area, visit

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