Pet Talk: Give your pets the gift of safety this season |

Pet Talk: Give your pets the gift of safety this season

Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM
Pet Talk
Ribbon is dangerous to our pets, but especially to curious cats. Avoid keeping ribbon within reach of cats.
Special to the Daily

The holiday season is upon us. This is an exciting time of year for friends and family to get together, to exchange gifts and celebrate the new year.

Unfortunately, the holiday season becomes a very busy time for emergency veterinarians such as myself as there is an increase in the amount of hazards our unknowing pets are exposed to at this time of year.

This year, we hope to help you pet owners prevent an emergency trip to the veterinarian.

Common holiday hazards for pets include:

Ribbons: Though beautiful to look at on gifts, ribbons can be very dangerous, especially for our curious feline friends. Cats love to play with ribbon and within a moment’s notice, the ribbon can be ingested and result in what we call a linear foreign body, resulting in a life threatening situation most likely leading to surgical intervention.

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Poinsettias: Though these are the plants of the season and are beautiful decorations on our holiday tables, these plants pose yet another problem to curious felines who love to chew on their leaves. Though these plants get a bad rap as being toxic, they do not result in death but can cause vomiting, drooling and genuine discomfort for your feline friends.

Chocolate: We all love to give chocolate as gifts for the holiday season, which often end up wrapped up under the tree. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can, at large doses, lead to seizures and death in your pets. The darker the chocolate and the more volume consumed, the more toxic this is to your pets. So put that chocolate up high and away from your pets.

Lilies: Found in holiday flower arrangements, lilies can quickly cause kidney failure and are deadly to cats.

Mistletoe: A common part of our holiday festivities, mistletoe can also be toxic to your pets. At higher doses, it can be toxic to the cardiovascular system. More commonly, it causes gastrointestinal side effects.

Medications: Though great for us to have after a long day on the mountain, medications such as Advil can be highly hazardous to our pets. Advil, at large doses, can result in kidney failure, and at lower doses, can cause severe gastrointestinal upsets. Whether human or pet medications, these medications should be kept high and away from unknowing pets.

Ice melt: With the increase in snow fall and the freeze, come icy sidewalks and an increase in the amount of ice melt we utilize. Ice melt can be very irritating to the skin and mouth of our pets, resulting in excessive drooling, depression and vomiting after they have licked their paws just after walking through it.

Rat poison: With an influx of folks from out of town to our wonderful valley, many stay in timeshares or short-term rentals that an unknowing owner has left poison to keep the rodent population to a minimum. Be aware that rat poison is highly toxic to your pets and should not ever be where your pet can get into it.

We wish all our Vail Valley pet owners a healthy, safe holiday season.

Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, is the owner of Mountain Animal Hospital Center and Mobile Veterinarian.

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