LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The holidays are a wonderful time of the year. But they can also be dangerous to your pets.
"Truly, the holidays are a great, joyous occasion to celebrate," said Dr. Tom Thompson, veterinarian at Thompson Animal Medical Center in La Crosse. "But it does bring a set of problems associated with our furry friends, without a question."
The good news for pet owners is most holiday accidents are preventable. Starting with holiday decorations
"If you don't have that tree secure," said Thompson. "And you can secure it pretty easily even with fishing line which is what we do, but the tree being knocked over, ornaments being broken, ornaments being potentially being inhaled or eaten."
Power cords are another big concern and should be covered or sprayed to discourage chewing.
"Man, the electrical cord," said Thompson. "You wouldn't think about it, but even with older dogs, there could be something about it being different in the house, and especially with cats and younger dogs. What we do is cover them up with throw rugs."
Cat owners should also avoid tinsel to prevent potentially life threatening complications if eaten.
But Thompson said one of the biggest holiday dangers for pets is what we humans enjoy most; the food.
"Foods," said Thompson. "You've just got to be real careful with that and let others know that too. That it's a no-no. If you're having people over, try to remind the kids that people food is not good for dogs and cats… A little bit for them is probably equal to what we would eat being a larger body."
Rich holiday foods are particularly bad for cats and dogs especially when given it in large quantities. Besides obesity and gastrointestinal problems, these foods can have potentially deadly reactions with a pet's pancreas. Some foods, such as chocolate and alcohol can be toxic in small amounts.
"Throughout the course of the year," said Thompson. "And more during the holidays, just like with other rich foods, we see more chocolate toxicity that needs to be hospitalized."
If you're having a get-together, remind guests to keep their plates and cups off the floor and away from animals. And keep in mind that having guests over and loud noises can be stressful on pets.
"If it's going to be a busy time and it makes your pet nervous," said Thompson. "Make sure that there's a private area for them."
Another commonly overlooked aspect of pet safety is toys. Make sure they are the appropriate size for your pet, and keep children's toys away from your furry friends.
The holidays can be a wonderful time for pets and their people. Above all else, use common sense and think things through.
"La Crosse has got great pet owners," said Thompson. "I just got to say that. And yet, things happen."
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