Before the holidays, go to a pharmacy and buy a box of cotton balls. Be sure that you get COTTON balls; not the "cosmetic puffs" that are made from man-made fibers. Also, buy a quart of half-and-half coffee cream [also called light cream] and put it in the freezer.
Should your dog eat glass ornaments, defrost the half-and-half and pour some in a bowl. Dip cotton balls into the cream and feed them to your dog.
Dogs under 10 lbs. should eat 2 balls which you have first torn into smaller pieces. Dogs 10-50 lbs should eat 3-5 balls and larger dogs should eat 5-7.
You may feed larger dogs an entire cotton ball at once. Dogs seem to really like these strange treats" and eat them readily. As the cotton works its way through the digestive tract it will find all the glass pieces and wrap itself around them. Even the teeniest shards of glass will be caught and wrapped in the cotton fibers and the cotton will protect the intestines from damage by the glass. Your dog's stools will be really weird for a few days and you will have to be careful to check for fresh blood or a tarry appearance to the stool. If either of the latter symptoms appear you should rush your dog to the vet for a checkup but, in most cases, the dogs will be just fine.
POINSETTIAS, HOLLY and MISTLETOE
All three of these plants are poisonous to pets and if you do have a pet who can be naughty you may want to refrain from having any of these in your home during the holidays. At the very minimum they will have to be kept out of reach.
Snow Globes are filled with ethylene glycol, also known as antifreeze. If a snow globe is broken, your dog may be exposed to this deadly substance.
These are poisonous for dogs if eaten. Keep them out of reach, ideally by giving them to your dog trainer. Coffee, espresso, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and alcohol are also dangerous.
Some dogs will drink the water out of the tree base, and this might not be good for them, especially if you've added anything to help prolong the life of the tree. Tree preservatives sometimes have sugar, which make the water attractive to the dog, and fertilizers that can sicken them.
Turkey is fine for dogs, in moderation. Do not feed turkey skin, fat or bones. Cooked bones are deadly and turkey fat and skin can cause a pancreatic attack due to their richness.
TINSEL, RIBBON & STRING DECORATIONS
Any long, flexible, linear object, when swallowed, can cause an extremely dangerous type of intestinal obstruction. Ribbon and other similar items can stretch out in the tubular intestines and bunch up the "tube" like an accordion as the body attempts to pass it. The force of intestinal contractions can be so strong that the string-like object can actually "saw" through the wall of the intestines. This situation can be, not only painful, but deadly! A fatal peritonitis (from infection) may rapidly ensue. If you see a string, ribbon, piece of tinsel, or similar object protruding from your pet's rectum or mouth, do NOT attempt to tug on it! It may go in much farther than you think and it could be very dangerous to pull it. If you suspect that your pet has swallowed one of these items, what do you do? If it has been swallowed within the past 1/2 hour, it might help to induce vomiting in order to bring it up before it has left the stomach and entered the intestinal tract. However, you should consult your vet first. If longer than 1/2 hour, the best thing to do is to monitor for signs of obstruction and/or abdominal pain and to call your vet right away.
For dogs, pine needles are not poisonous but can cause some mechanical GI problems if too many are swallowed. They can be toxic to cats, however, because pine oils are toxic to cats. If a dog swallows only a few needles, you may see some vomiting and diarrhea. If a large number are swallowed the GI problems may be more severe, to the point of an actual stomach or intestinal impaction. If you see persistent vomiting, signs of abdominal pain, loss of appetite, or absence of bowel movements, call your vet right away.
Electric lights can be hazardous for several reasons. They can cause electrocution or serious electrical burns; the glass bulbs can be chewed and splintered or swallowed whole; and the cord on which the lights are strung can become a dangerous linear foreign object of the type discussed above. Signs of electrocution are typically a sudden onset of severe respiratory difficulty: the mouth may be open in an effort to obtain more oxygen; the tongue and gums may be purplish in color; and there may be foamy mucus or phlegm around the mouth or nose. Any of these signs requires immediate veterinary care and probably oxygen administration. Signs of an electrical burn are usually associated with the mouth, because the usual scenario is one of chewing an electrical cord; the mouth is thus the point-of-contact with the electrical current. Electrical burns may cause excessive salivation, swelling of the tongue; difficulty swallowing; and ulceration of the tongue or lips, to the point where the tissue may die and slough off. Treatment for these burns tends to be lengthy and painful. It is far better to err on the side of caution when stringing lights as decorations.
Candles, in addition to being a serious fire hazard if knocked over by a curious canine, can be a source of severe burns. Most dogs are sensible enough to move their nose if foolish enough to stick it in the flame! However, it is easy for a dog to knock the candle over and get hot wax into his eyes or on his fur. This can cause a serious burn. Keep these decorations well out of reach.
HOT CIDER & OTHER HOT LIQUIDS
Just like candles, any scalding hot liquid can cause a severe burn if turned over by a nosy dog who is trying to investigate whatever is on the table or serving tray. Never underestimate the lengths to which a hungry or curious dog will go when following good smells with his nose!
HOOKS & WIRES
Hooks and wires can be very dangerous if chewed or swallowed. They may puncture the mouth or GI tract, causing serious injury or even death. If your dog has chewed or swallowed a sharp metal hook or wire, check the inside of the mouth first, including the underside of the tongue. If you think anything may have been swallowed, do NOT induce vomiting. Instead, proceed according to the instructions given above, in swallowing glass ornaments, and monitor carefully.
Holiday time can be very hazardous to your pets unless some careful thought is put into the plans for decorating and entertaining. Some very simple precautions can make this season safe and fun. Please be careful!
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-888-4-ANI-HELP (426-4435).
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