It’s beginning to look a lot like the winter holidays, which can be a time of fun for everyone, including our family pets. To avoid a trip to our emergency veterinary hospital this winter, here are some tips for pet health and safety during the holidays.
For other winter challenges, check out how to recognize the signs of common cold weather illness in cats and dogs.
If a pet emergency does happen, we are here at our Castle Rock veterinary hospital to provide compassionate emergency and specialty care for your pets, 24/7/365. Call us at 303.660.1027 or just come right to the hospital with your pet emergency.
First, be Prepared
Before an emergency happens, be prepared. Here are some ideas on things to do now, so that if a pet emergency takes place, you don’t have to deal with things while also managing the stress of getting your pet the urgent veterinary care that they need.
- Keep our phone number handy – it is 303.660.1027. We are proud to be your 24/7/365 emergency veterinary hospital in Castle Rock, Colorado. We are here every day of the year, including holidays, to help your sick or injured pet in case of an emergency. Call us or if you have an emergency, bring your pet to our location.
- Plan your driving route now to our veterinary hospital and save our address in your phone. Our emergency vet hospital is located at 774 Maleta Lane, Castle Rock, CO, 80108, one block north of Founders Parkway, just off I25.
- Keep a list of veterinary medical contact information at home and save in your cell phone for fast access with names that you’ll remember in your phone:
- Find and save your family veterinarian’s name, clinic name, and phone number
- Find and save your closest 24/7/365 emergency veterinary hospital name, address, and phone number
- If you plan to travel with your pets:
- Find the emergency vet hospital closest to your destination (and along your driving route if you are traveling by car) and keep their information handy
- Anticipate and prevent pet escapes when they are enjoying holiday fun with family or on the road. Be careful when you enter or leave your home and in cars. Secure pets with harnesses or in carriers and keep ID tags and microchips up to date. Ensure pets have identification tags and microchips with proper contact information and registrations. In case a pet does sneak out, you’re much more likely to be safely reunited if their information is current.
- The ASPCA Poison Control Hotline number is 1.888.426.4435 — fees may apply.
Follow Your Pet’s Regular Diet
To share the joy of the holidays with your pets, keep them away from the rich foods, alcohol, and sweets that tend to be on your people family’s menu. Be sure to only feed them food and treats that are specially made for dogs or cats. If you are traveling, pack your pet’s normal food and if you’ll need to buy it in another city, shop in advance to confirm that it is available for purchase near your destination.
Our recent list of the Top 7 Things to Keep Away from Pets During the Holidays includes many of the holiday foods and things that people love to indulge in but that pets should never eat.
Watch for Pet Health Emergency Warning Signs
To maintain your pet’s health (and safety!) during the holidays and throughout the year, keep them on their regular diet. If your pet does manage to steal something from your holiday table, look closely for signs of distress and symptoms of a possible emergency including:
· sudden changes in behavior
· vomiting or diarrhea
If you spot any of these warning signs or symptoms in your pet, please call the APCA poison control hotline immediately at 1.888.426.4435 (fees may apply).
Or call us here at us at 303.660.1027 or bring your pet to us right away, any time — 24/7/365 for help.
Pet-proof Your Decor
Your sparkling decorations, ornaments, tree, lights, and candles help to make the holidays special. However, they can be especially dangerous as temptations and even poisonous to our pets.
- Christmas Trees: To keep them from tipping over and hurting your pet or breaking glass ornaments that can cause injuries, be sure to secureyourtree. Make itsafer for your pets by securing the tree to a wall, doorframe, or other structural support with fishing line. Using fishing line is safer than using tinsel or string, which could be harmful or even deadly to a pet if swallowed.
- Christmas Tree Water Additives: Putting things in Christmas tree water can be harmful to pets who drink the water. To be safe do not add anything, meaning no aspirin, sugar, or commercial preservatives. Remember if you’re on the road staying in someone else’s home with your pet, to be sure that nothing is added to the water.
- Electric Lights: Use electric lights around your pets only when the pets are supervised. Dogs or cats can chew through powered cords, which can cause burns or worse.
- Ornaments, Holiday Decorations, and Wrapping Items: Decorative holiday items can be dangerous to pets. Sharp or broken ornaments can cause cuts, and if ingested can cause dangerous conditions. Take particular care with ornaments made from salted dough or other food-based materials. If consumed, they can block intestines or cause poisoning. Strings and tinsel are especially intriguing for cats. If consumed, string or tinsel can block a cat’s digestive system and require surgery. Keep safely out of reach or off the décor list. Snow globes can contain ethylene glycol (antifreeze). Tiny amounts of antifreeze for a cat or dog, depending on the size of the animal, can be fatal, and immediate treatment is vital. Even if symptoms seem to improve, internal damage can be getting worse, causing acute kidney failure. Do not wait to seek help if a pet consumes liquid from a snow globe or any other source of antifreeze.
- Face masks should be worn when in public but should also be kept away from pets. If ingested, face masks can obstruct a pet’s digestive tract.
- Flowers and Holiday Plants: Common holiday favorites that can cause poisoning and should be kept away from pets include:
- Amaryllis plants, which are toxic. If a pet eats your amaryllis, you may notice drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea, or if they eat the bulb it can cause hypotension, weakness, loss of muscle control, and seizures. Seek emergency medical care right away.
- Mistletoe plants contain toxic lectins, with mild exposure causing gastritis and more exposure causing greater illness. Also, the plastic beads added to mistletoe can obstruct a pet’s digestive tract.
- Holly plants are toxic, with consumption potentially causing gastritis and lethargy.
- Winter greenery like balsam, pine, or cedar can poison pets and cause vomiting, abdominal pain, and lethargy when consumed.
- Poinsettias may also hurt pets when ingested. Watch for mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or more rarely diarrhea the plant’s sap touches a pet’s skin, then redness, swelling, and itchiness may occur.
- Fires and lighted candles may attract pets with heat and interesting flames. Never leave pets unsupervised where there are open flames of a fireplace or lighted candles.
- Potpourri and essential oils can cause severe burns and injure a pet’s mouth, eyes, skin, and other organs, and can cause severe digestive problems if eaten.
The ASPCA has a list of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats. Keep the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline number handy – 1.888.426.4435. Or call us or bring pets into our emergency pet hospital right away.
In Conclusion, Prepare to Keep Pets Healthy and Safe During the Holidays
Preparing at home and when on the road with pets can reduce stress and help prevent a visit to your emergency veterinarian. At Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies, we’re here to help if the worst happens. Some final tips and reminders include:
- Prepare and plan ahead with your vet’s phone number, poison control number, and routes to the hospital saved in your phone, just in case. Being ready for the worst can help you think clearly during a pet health emergency.
- Work to prevent escapes. Even when our pets are enjoying holiday fun around family and guests, be sure to watch them closely, especially when entering and leaving the home or when visiting others. Pets may try to escape in the commotion of hellos and goodbyes and could become lost.
- Keep ID tags and microchips up to date. Ensure pets have identification tags and microchips with proper contact information and registrations. In case a pet does sneak out, you’re much more likely to be safely reunited if their information is current.
- Clear the food from your table, counters, serving areas, and take out the trash when you are finished. Make sure that pets can’t reach tempting treats that could be hazardous or even deadly. Dispose of carcasses and bones, keep chocolate and sweets away, and dispose of all the fun ribbons, strings, crinkly bags, and other packaging that could tempt pets to eat them.
- Unplug lights to prevent cats and dogs from chewing electrical cords and never leave pets alone with fire or candles.
We wish your family – human and furry – very healthy, safe, and happy holidays. If you suspect that your pet is experiencing an emergency, call us or bring your pet into our emergency veterinary hospital right away.