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Holiday Safety Tips

The holiday season is a joyful and merry time with friends and two- and four-legged family members.  The following holiday safety tips will help make the holidays safe for your furry family members and enjoyable for all. 

Christmas Trees
Make sure your tree is secure and can’t be tipped over by playful or curious pets. Placing it in an off-limits room or gating it off is helpful.  Make sure ornaments that could be mistaken for chew toys, fragile ornaments, and those with sentimental value are hung close to the top of the tree so they’re not tempting. Christmas tree water additives can be potentially hazardous to your pets. Some contain antifreeze, and the old wives tales about adding aspirin or sugar to your tree water to keep your tree fresh are not only false but they can cause serious harm to your pet.
 

Decoration
Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, and some lilies are poisonous.  They should be kept in areas where your pet can’t get to them at all.  If you think your pet has ingested any amount of these plants—call your veterinarian for immediate help. Candles and exposed wires may be attractive to your pet as items to play with.  Make sure they are hidden or kept in pet friendly areas. Tinsel and strings are fun for cats to play with but they are also very dangerous. If ingested they can get tangled up in the intestines and cause blockages.

Food
Eating and treats are part of the holidays. While it’s OK for your pet to safely join in the edible festivities—make sure they don’t ingest certain toxic foods.  Chocolate and candies can contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to pets. Avoid turkey and chickens bones for your pets as they are small and sharp and can cause harm while being eaten and also once they are in the intestines. High fat and spicy foods can cause intestinal discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, and, in some cases, pancreatitis.

If you want to give your pet a special holiday treat offer them plain green beans and carrots, turkey or chicken with no seasoning, or other bland foods. Make sure to limit the amount and ensure they don’t overeat.  If your pet has free access to the house when you’re away—be sure to take out the trash or lock it away removing any temptation.

Enjoy the holidays with your beloved pets in a safe and pet-friendly way. 

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Tips to Keep Pets Safe When You Have Guests

  • Warn your guests if your pets will be free inside your home so they can be sure not to let them out by mistake.
  • Consider leaving your pets in a closed room if they are highly reactive to people they don’t know.
  • Supervise any children your pets don’t know as many children are not taught how to interact around pets and could accidentally become injured.
  • Inform your guests not to give your pets any table scraps.
  • Holiday decorations and plants can be very dangerous for your pets so be sure you and your guests keep them out of your pets’ reach.
The Emergency Division of The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year to provide exceptional care for your pets when needed. You can reach our Emergency Division at 703.361.8287.
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Traveling with Your Pet

  • Be sure your pet’s identification tags are up-to-date and attached to your pet’s collar.
  • Make sure your pet’s collar is not so loose that it can come off when you attach the leash.
  • Consider microchipping your pet—most shelters and veterinarians have the microchip scanner that facilitates reuniting pets with their owners.
  • A loose pet in a vehicle can be a dangerous situation if you are involved in an accident. It is best to crate your pet or buy a specifically designed pet seat belt.
  • No matter how well trained your pet is do not allow him or her to be off leash in an unknown area.
  • Never leave your pet alone in the vehicle, even for a very short period of time.
  • If you are traveling by air, consult your veterinarian for a health certificate which is required by most airlines.
  • Consider the weather at the time you will be flying and arrange flights accordingly.
  • Consult your airline about allowing your pet to fly inside the cabin.

We wish you and your pet safe travels and a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Food Safety Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe this Thanksgiving

  • Keep holiday food out of reach of pets as any food that your pet is not used to eating can wreak havoc on your pet’s gastrointestinal system.
  • Don’t give your pets foods that contain too much fat such as dark meat turkey, butter, nuts, gravies, bacon, ham, etc. as they can cause pancreatitis which is a potentially life-threatening condition.
  • Never ever give your pets chocolate or any candy or desert containing Xylitol which is an artificial sweetener as chocolate and Xylitol are highly toxic to your pet.
  • No garlic, onions, raisins, grapes, currants, herbs, or essential oils as they can be toxic to your pet.
  • Turkey bones can puncture or become lodged in your in your pet’s gastrointestinal system so don’t give your pets access to them.
  • If you deep fry your turkey—do not allow your pet anywhere near the deep fryer.
  • Keep your holiday trash out of your pet’s reach.
  • If you must share your holiday meal with your pet—offer a very small amount of white meat turkey without skin, a dollop of mashed potatoes, some green beans, and a little lick of pumpkin pie.

The Emergency Division of The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year to provide care for your pet when needed. You can reach our Emergency Division at 703.361.8287.

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Keep Your Pets Safe at Halloween!

Follow these tips to ensure your pets have a safe and Happy Halloween.

Treats
Make sure your pets only receive pet-specific treats. Candy is unsafe for pets. There are two kinds of candy that are extremely dangerous for your pets.

Chocolate: In all forms chocolate can be toxic to your pet—dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the most potent and are the most dangerous forms for your pet. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include, but are not limited to:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Panting and restlessness
  • High heartrate
  • Severe cases can include
    • Muscle tremors
    • Seizures
    • Heart failure

If your pet has ingested a large amount of chocolate, especially dark and baking, take your pet to your regular vet or emergency hospital immediately.

Xylitol: This is an ingredient in sugar-free candy. Dogs and cats can’t process Xylitol like we can—even a small amount can be very toxic. If you think your pet has ingested Xylitol it is important to get them to your veterinarian or emergency hospital right away. Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning include, but are not limited to:
• Weakness/lethargy/collapse
• Vomiting and/or black tarry stools
• Tremors and seizures
• Loss of consciousness/coma

Safety: It is best to bring your pets inside before the trick or treating starts. The chaos, costumes, and surrounding activity can be overwhelming for them. Sadly some people take Halloween as an opportunity to do aggressive and mean things to pets. If your pet becomes agitated from repeated knocking on the door you can set up outside to pass out candy.

Decorations: Pumpkins, corn, hay, candles, and candy make for festive decorations. Be careful where you place them around the house. Pumpkins, although non- toxic, can cause upset stomachs if eaten in large volumes. Large chunks of pumpkin and especially corn can get lodged in the stomach or intestines making for an extremely dangerous blockage which would require immediate surgery. Don’t leave lit candles in places that could be easily knocked over. If you have particularly adventurous or playful pets it may be best to use outside decorations only.

Happy Halloween!

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Pet Safety During the Holidays

With so much going on during the holidays, planning ahead for our pets may not occur. There are many hidden dangers associated with the holiday season.

  • Company coming in and out of the house may allow pets to leave through an open door
  • Decorations can easily be swallowed or cause an electric shock if chewed on
  • Extra treats that we enjoy can be very toxic to our pets

 

We recommend taking the following simple steps to protect your pets during the holidays.

When company is coming:

  • Watch the exits
  • Have a quiet room where your pets can go if there is too much commotion
  • Ask your guests not to feed your pets any treats
  • Be aware of the weather if you are going to leave your pet outside

Before leaving the house:

  • Unplug all decorations
  • Take out the trash
  • Do not leave food out on counters
  • If your pet cannot be trusted around decorations, crate them while you are gone

Have the following information easily accessible:

  • The nearest 24/7 Emergency Veterinary Hospital
  • Your veterinarian’s hours and contact information
  • ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1.888.426.4435 (a fee may apply)

Happy Holidays!