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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, manager,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

12-01-04

Contacts:

Dr. Kim Langholz, Small Animal Clinic, (515) 294-4900

Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778

Holidays can be hazardous to pets

AMES, Iowa -- Holiday hustle and bustle can unleash hazards that put pets in peril, says an Iowa State University veterinarian.

"A busy holiday household can place companion animals at risk for injury and illness--even death," said Dr. Kim Langholz, a veterinarian at Iowa State's Small Animal Clinic.

Decorations, lights, gift wrap and holiday food can breed mishaps. Even great aunt Sally can stress a pet not used to a house full of relatives.

"By simply being aware of the potential hazards, pet owners can greatly minimize the risk to their animals," she said.

Some risks are inside the house and occur mainly at the holidays, while others are found outdoors throughout winter.

Indoor hazards

  • Christmas trees can be pulled over by climbing cats or curious dogs
  • Broken ornaments can cut paws/skin
  • Decorative lights are an electrocution hazard if the dog, cat, rabbit or other curious pet bites the wires
  • Chocolates contain chemicals that are dangerous for pets
  • Table scraps and bones can cause severe gastrointestinal disorders, pancreatitis and blockages that require surgery to remove. Try to remember: People food for people, pet food for pets.
  • Tinsel, ribbons or yarn, if swallowed, can require surgery to remove. They can cause the intestines to bunch up so that food cannot pass through properly.
  • Burning candles can be a danger. Curious animals could burn themselves or knock candles over and cause a fire.
  • Decorative plants vary in levels of toxicity. Poinsettias are low in toxins, while mistletoe--especially the berries--is highly toxic.
  • Visitors can cause pets to feel anxious. Make sure your pet has a safe zone where it can go for quiet and privacy. Make sure exterior doors are properly closed so pets don't escape.

Outdoor hazards

  • Cold weather can lead to frostbite. Provide appropriate shelter and a fresh water supply for your outdoor pets. Consider coats and boots for dogs that live indoors most of the time and may not be properly acclimated to the cold.
  • Antifreeze from vehicles is highly toxic. Repair leaky radiators and store antifreeze properly. Consider using alternative antifreeze products that contain propylene glycol and are less toxic.
  • Salt and other ice melting products can be consumed when your pet licks its paws. Wipe paws with a clean cloth when your pet comes in from outside. Have your dog wear boots when out on walks.
  • Cats and other small animals will crawl up under the hood of a car for warmth. Honk your horn before starting your car.

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Quick look

Dr. Kim Langholz, veterinarian at Iowa State's Small Animal Clinic, says decorations, lights, gift wrap and holiday food are among the hazards to companion animals during the holidays. She reminds pet owners to be aware of risks, both indoors and outdoors.

Quote

"A busy holiday household can place companion animals at risk for injury and illness-even death."

Dr. Kim Langholz