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4 holiday hazards to warn veterinary clients about
Advise pet owners to hide these household hazards and protect your patients this holiday season.

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Are your veterinary clients looking for the perfect present for their pets this holiday season? How about a hazard-free household? While clients fuss over shopping lists and who’s cooking the turkey, it’s your job to remind them about the dangers to pets that come with the holiday.

“The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy for our families, but in preparing for the season, many pet owners run the risk of exposing their pets to household dangers that could present potential life-threatening hazards to their pets,” says Dr. Lori Pasternak, of Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care in Richmond, Va. “These latent hazards could derail your clients’ holiday season if their pets become ill as a result of these hidden perils.”

Here are four holiday hazards to warn your clients about, according to Dr. Pasternak.

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1. Decorations

While holiday decorations can make a home feel more festive, they can be tantalizing traps for pets. Your clients should keep decorations and ornaments higher up on trees so they’re not consumed by pets. If a pet decides the colorful garland or tree trim might make a tasty snack, they can and will get stuck in the pet’s intestines, necessitating immediate surgical removal. Also, exposed cords from electric lights can cause electrocution or oral burns if chewed.

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2. Gift wrap

When it’s time to pull all the gifts out of hiding to be wrapped, your clients should make sure their pets aren’t in the room while they spread out all the wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons. “If a cat starts gnawing on the ribbon, it will literally ‘stitch’ the cat’s intestines together as it’s being passed through the gut,” Dr. Pasternak says.

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3. Holiday feast

While turkey and ham make up the majority of traditional holiday meals, turkey and ham bones can become lodged in the pet’s intestines if swallowed in large pieces. Tell your clients not to offer table scraps to pets. Cats and dogs could become seriously ill or even choke to death.

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4. Flowers

The poinsettias your clients use as holiday centerpieces are also toxic to most household pets if they’re chewed and swallowed in large enough quantities. “The level of toxicity is completely proportionate to the size and weight of the pet, but instead of doing the math on that equation, it’s better for clients to choose other types of floral arrangements that don’t endanger their pets,” Dr. Pasternak says

“The holidays should be fun for your clients, not an unscheduled trip to the veterinary clinic,” Dr. Pasternak says. But make sure your clients know if something does happen, they shouldn’t hesitate to take their pet to the nearest veterinary clinic—no matter what holiday it is.

Click here to quiz yourself on more holiday hazards.

Lori Pasternak, DVM, graduated from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1998. She worked in a full-service practice in Richmond, Va., for 13 years prior to opening Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care.

 

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