Many families can’t resist the cutest holiday present of all: a new puppy or kitten. After the cuteness gets old the reality sets in. OK, the cuteness probably doesn’t get old and thank goodness, because if you have to pick up one more of your grandma’s Christmas ornaments that has shattered on the floor due to little kitty swinging from a Christmas tree limb….. And that puppy drinking the water from the tree stand or eating the chocolate gelt….! Housebreaking a puppy is an adventure in itself and is even more challenging when it’s freezing outside. They learn to run back to the door real quick and take care of their “business” indoors where it is toasty warm.
Even the adult pets can be exposed to winter hazards. The Christmas tree reservoir water can contain fertilizers and bacteria. Holiday arrangements may contain lilies, which can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Poinsettias are not nearly as toxic but can cause gastrointestinal upset.
Liquid potpourri is a popular household fragrance during the holiday. Pets become exposed by drinking or spilling it on themselves and then grooming themselves. Signs of exposure include vomiting and irritation of mouth and gums.
Ice melting products can be irritating to the skin and paws and if ingested may require hospitalization. Antifreeze spills are enticing because antifreeze is sweet and even a teaspoonful can be fatal in smaller pets.
The cold winter also sees a rise of uninvited house guests in the form of rodents. Rat poison is also attractive to your pets and can be lethal.
So—a couple of reminders to keep your pet safe during the winter: Monitor your pet around your Christmas tree; no tinsel, put glass ornaments up high, cover the water in the reservoir bowl. Inspect your holiday floral arrangements that may be dropping leaves where your pets can get them; beware of lilies, poinsettias, mistletoe and holly. Keep liquid potpourri covered and in an area where your pet can’t knock it over. If your pets go outside, consider rinsing their paws when they come in, if they may have come in contact with ice melting products. Clean up antifreeze spills promptly and monitor your driveway or garage for antifreeze leaks. If you must use rodent poison, always put it in a place your pet cannot access and inspect the area carefully, since rodents can sometimes move the poison blocks.
Enjoy the winter and snuggle up on the couch with your furry friend!
Diane B. Tortorice, DVM, Co-owner of Valley Cottage Animal Hospital,
Dr. Tortorice is a board certified Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners specializing in Canine & Feline Practice.