Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Pets Vs. Decorations

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

We are in that interim time between Thanksgiving and Christmas where life is hectic and everyone is in the process of beginning to decorate their home.  With the acquisition of two pets recently who are intermittently in the house I have begun to think about how to keep them and our Christmas decorations safe over the next month. 

First, let’s think about things like ribbons, wrapping paper, ornaments, tinsel, extension cords and gifts, which may be may be appealing "chew toys" but which may make your pet sick.  Eating tinsel or other string-like items such as ribbon can cause serious damage to the intestine.  One end can get stuck while the rest is pulled into the intestine as it contracts; the contractions may cause the ribbon or tinsel to saw through the intestine.  If not caught in time, infection of the belly cavity develops and the prognosis for recovery becomes poor.  Pets can quickly become ill with signs including vomiting, diarrhea, depression, belly pain and sometimes fever.  Foreign matter stuck in the intestine often does not show up on "x-ray" but sometimes the foreign matter will trap air in the intestine, which helps the veterinarian make a diagnosis.  Surgery is required to remove foreign matter that does not pass out on its own.

With the numerous lights around Christmas, pay attention to the fact that these lights are another attraction for pets to chew on.  Both indoor and outdoor lights should be carefully examined to ensure safety for your household pets.  Electrical shock may occur from defective cords as well as from pets chewing on cords.  Check cords for any signs of bite marks, loose or frayed wires, proximity to the tree's water supply or evidence of short circuits.  Use grounded "3-prong" extension cords and strictly follow manufacturer's guidelines for light usage.  It may be difficult to curb your pet's fascination with all those pretty decorations.  Child gates can be used across doorways to keep your pet away from the Christmas tree and decorations at times they can’t be watched.  Consider the strategic use of furniture as well.  I’m sure all of us would like to enjoy the Christmas seasonal decorations and keep our pets safe.

Lastly, think about chocolate.  Chocolate can be toxic or even fatal to dogs and cats.  Chocolate poisoning occurs most frequently in dogs but other species are also susceptible. Theobromine is the toxic compound found in chocolate.  The toxicity of chocolate depends on the amount and type of chocolate ingested, with the toxic dose for a 44-pound dog being 3 oz. for unsweetened cocoa, 5 oz. for baking chocolate, 7 oz. for semisweet chocolate, and 20 oz. for milk chocolate.

On a lighter note, for inventive ways to keep your pets safe and still celebrate the holidays visit: 6 cat proof Christmas trees to try out during the holidays

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