Christmas Decoration Hazards

DSCN3632 "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go…"  Personally, I think getting started too early makes you sort of take it for granted by the time the blessed day arrives.  I'd rather have a frenzy of decorating about a week before, but I'm in the minority.  My house is getting decorated, and on the first day of December the staff had the clinic decked in boughs of holly, or some synthetic equivalent thereof.  I absolutely refuse to countenance this sort of thing before Thanksgiving (and Wal-Mart had Santa Claus rosy cheek-by-jowl with ghosts and goblins right after Halloween; like mayonnaise on pancakes, this is just wrong).  I can only hold the line for so long, though. 

DSCN3633 The clinic Christmas tree has little red ornaments with our names and our pets' names.  Note that it hangs on the wall, out of reach of casual nibbling by pets (or kids, for that matter).  Most folks have decorations that are a little more accessible to their pets.  There is a ton of information on Christmas hazards, but I'll hit the high points. 

Poinsettias aren't so terribly poisonous, but they aren't good to eat, either — lots of puking, at least, and maybe worse, so put them out of reach (say, at somebody else's home).  Any kind of string, garland, tinsel (even if not covered with tasty popcorn) can cause an intestinal blockage.  A real, live tree in the home is a temptation to climb (and fall), and is often considered a taste treat (more puking).  Don't put that preservative chemical in your tree water; it's almost as good a place to drink from as the toilet.

If your pet is blinking on and off because he's latched on to the electric light cord, step number one is (and I can't stress this enough) PULL THE PLUG! Do not grab the pet. PULL THE PLUG!  Otherwise you join the circuit and get electrocuted, too.  Pets who have received electric shocks need emergency attention.  They may look okay at first, but they can drown as their lungs fill with fluid shortly after the shock.

DSCN3625 You have to eat a LOT of chocolate to get poisoned, but Christmas is when some of us have a lot of chocolate around (or should).  On the other hand, it takes very little of the artificial sweetener Xylitol to kill your pet, so don't drop the sugar-free gum or candy.  If you do, treat it as an emergency.  Of course, there are other bad things to eat around Christmas, too.  This guy doesn't look like he feels too good, and he doesn't.

DSCN3627 He's got a bit of a sore throat after eating some glass.  I can't tell you how many times I've seen patients dying with parvovirus, and the owner asks "Do you think somebody fed him glass?"  And I reply, "Why would he eat glass?"  The answer is that he would eat glass to get in the holiday spirit, apparently.  Above, we have the intact ornament.  Below, the ornament that was mistaken for a tasty snack. Ouch.

Glass chip xray(2) As it turns out, the little pieces of glass (which ARE dense enough to show up on an X-ray) are all in the poop already.  If you look closely, you can see some bright white spots in the poop.  However, he's still not feeling too spiffy.  Once I accidentally swallowed a fish-bone.  It hurt for a long time.  I'm guessing that little pieces of broken glass are worse.  I'm not going to try it and see.  After all, with seven years of college and thirty years of practice, my guesses are "educated guesses" (and all my excuses are "doctor's excuses").

1 thoughts on “Christmas Decoration Hazards

  1. 1800PetMeds Coupon says:

    Great post. More cat owners should know about the hazards of Pointsettias in the house during the holidays especially if you have cats like mine who will chew on any plant we bring in.

    Thanks for the info!

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