Hey Aloha Friday Friends!
Were you able to get something for yourself this holiday season?
I always treat myself to something as an incentive to hanging in there with everything else I have to do this season.
See Santa on your mobile phone
This Christmas eve, join NORAD to track Santa’s flight from your phone. On December 24th, open Google Maps for mobile and do a search for “Santa” to see his latest location.
Visit Santa’s Village to see what’s been going on, and join in on the fun!
Keep your pets safe!
Holiday Table Scraps: We tend to enjoy lots of rich, delicious foods during the holidays. Since our pets are not accustomed to abrupt changes in their diet, a sudden increase in fat content can have a negative impact on their digestive health, even though they may enjoy the taste. Feeding things like ham, turkey, and sweets, or even the juices from cooking foods are common causes of vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis, which can be very serious. Foods with bone fragments are especially dangerous, as they can become lodged in the intestinal tract, potentially requiring invasive surgical removal. If the bones have sharp points, they can perforate your pet’s stomach or intestines and cause a severe and life-threatening bacterial infection.
In general, pets are much healthier when they have a consistent diet limited to a high quality pet food. It is also important to keep holiday treats and candies out of your pet’s reach. Consider what you’ve placed on your coffee table and how accessible it is to your dog or cat. Additionally, remember gifts under your tree that may be food items and may be very tempting to curious pets.
Chocolate: Many of us are aware that chocolate can be hazardous to our pet’s health, yet it continues to be the most common toxin eaten by our pet population. Despite what we may know about the hazard chocolate presents to our pets, most pet owners don’t treat it any differently than any other food item in the home. It is not uncommon to see a bowl of chocolate candy on the dining room table in the home of a pet owner.
It is this accessibility and sweet taste that makes chocolate a very enticing toxin for dogs and cats. The primary toxins in chocolate are caffeine and theobromine. Depending on the dose, these stimulants can cause excitability followed by weakness, loss of balance, seizures, and ultimately coma and death. The amount and type of chocolate ingested determines the dose of caffeine and theobromine. While all chocolate poses these risks, types of chocolate with a more bitter taste tend to have a higher concentration of these stimulants. For instance, baker’s chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate, which is more dangerous than white chocolate. If your pet ingests chocolate, it is important that they are seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Seasonal Household Plants: Some holiday ornamental plants can cause illness in your pet if either the leaves or the stems are ingested. Clinical signs caused by household plants can range from mild to severe depending on the type of plant involved. For example, ingestion of lilies is very serious and can lead to acute kidney failure.
There are many species of mistletoe, so it is difficult to predict the effects of ingestion, but clinical signs vary from mild GI upset to liver failure and seizures. If your pet ingests these plants, they should be seen by a veterinarian. Contrary to popular belief, reports of Poinsettia toxicity have been greatly exaggerated. Although the plant has an undeserved reputation, ingestion of its leaves can irritate a pet’s mouth and stomach, resulting in mild GI upset and temporary decreased appetite. In rare cases, blisters may form in the animal’s mouth. These signs typically resolve on their own and do not require veterinary care.
Christmas Trees: Tree ornaments, presents under the tree, and even a Christmas tree itself can present a hazard to pets. There are a wide variety of ornaments on the market, and some look very similar to pet toys (especially to cats). If hooks are used to hang these ornaments, the hooks can cause injury to your pet’s paws, mouth, and gastro-intestinal tract if eaten. If your cat is tempted to play with the ornaments on your tree, decorate the bottom third of the tree with non-breakable, plastic or wooden ornaments that do not have hooks, or decorate only the top two-thirds of your tree. You may feel your tree looks funny, but it will save you from spending the holidays at an emergency veterinary clinic.
Presents under a tree can pose as much risk as the ornaments hanging on it. Animals are often attracted to ribbons and strings as toys, and they may eventually swallow them. This can create a life-threatening intestinal obstruction, requiring emergency surgery to remove the material. Animals are also attracted to Christmas lights, and will often chew or pull on the cords. This can result in electrocution or burns to their face and mouth. Lights need to be hung out of reach of pets, and animals should not be left unattended around Christmas trees or other strands of lights. Trees should also be secured to a wall or ceiling hook. This will help prevent the tree from toppling over should your pet decide to jump on it to get to a tempting ornament.
O Christmas Tree Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.
Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.
No Feasting for the Furries
By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising fur kid will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.
Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Choose gifts that are safe.
Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallowing the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible.
Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer—and tons of play sessions together.
Forget the Mistletoe & Holly
Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies, can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
Leave the Leftovers
Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills.
That Holiday Glow
Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!
Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth.
If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you’re busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.
Put the Meds Away
Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.
Careful with Cocktails
If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.
A Room of Their Own
Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.
New Year’s Noise
As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears.