OK, so maybe your annual holiday gathering doesn’t look exactly like this. And I know, it seems a bit curmudgeonly to name house guests as the poster-children for the final day of this blog series. After all, it’s the holidays and isn’t this time of year about nothing else if not spending it with friends, family, and loved ones? But from the perspective of the health and safety of your pets (which after all, is the reason you’re reading this blog, isn’t it?), its truly important to appreciate all of the dangers that your friends, family members, and other loved ones will (likely) inadvertently expose your pets to during this time of great festivities. So I beg of you, before you label me a Scrooge for singling out those that will grace your home with a visit or overnight stay in this holiday season, please just read on to find out why. I suspect you’ll fully understand my reasons for doing so once you have.
I suspect this is a pet toxicity that many of you have never heard of. In fact, I suspect many of you have never even heard of a cyclamen before - though you’ve likely seen them many times (they’re often on display as you walk into supermarkets or in their floral departments). Although popular, especially around the holidays, the cyclamen isn’t a well known about pet toxin. Its certainly far less well known about than the poinsettia. A point which is both ironic and sad, seeing as how the poinsettia really isn’t all that hazardous to pets. (Did you catch that in my introductory post for this series?) So read on and be sure to spread the word; together let’s remedy the lack of public awareness about the dangers that the lovely cyclamen can pose to pets.
Some of the nicest things about the holidays this time of year are the smells, don’t you agree? Whether its the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree, cookies baking in the oven, or a crackling wood fire, I just feel that Christmas is associated with an abundance of wonderful smells. Perhaps its just because I’m married to a wonderful and truly talented pastry chef and live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, I don’t know. Regardless though, today’s post is about a substance that can create or help to mimic some of those wonderful holiday smells… liquid potpourri. And though these oily liquids can fill a house with a sensory overload of wonderful aromas without all the ‘hassle’ of baking cookies, lighting a fire, or cutting down a Christmas tree, they also pose a very real and potentially very significant hazard to your pets - particularly your cats. So read on and enjoy Day 10 of ‘The 12 Pet Hazards of Christmas’, only 2 more days to go in the series…
Just like tinsel, the ribbons and bows that adorn wrapped gifts are often very enticing for cats. Something about them just seems to trigger a cat’s ‘inner hunter’. Sadly though, a common result of this ‘hunt’ is an intestinal obstruction that can sicken or kill your cat and requires expensive surgery to remove.
The long, strand-like nature of ribbons and bows makes them common linear foreign bodies in cats around this time of the year. Linear foreign bodies cause a particular type of digestive tract obstruction in pets that are curious, mischievous, and unfortunate enough to eat them. The details of linear foreign body obstruction were outlined in the post I wrote about tinsel on day 1 of this blog series, and you are referred to that post (click here) for the additional specifics that all pet owners should be aware of about this type of expensive and potentially fatal intestinal obstruction.
Though strands of Christmas lights can really add a beautiful holiday glow to your tree or house decorations, its important to also appreciate that they can cause a curious pet quite a shock and some pretty significant resulting health problems too. For this reason, light strands and other electric cords are the Day 7 pet hazard for The 12 Pet Hazards of Christmas blog series.
Hi Dr. Nicholas, here is a brief account of Stella Mae’s accident:
About one week ago our wonderful princess, Stella Mae, had a scary
encounter with an extension cord and the phenomenon of electricity. As
a 10 month old black lab, you can imagine that little Stella is very
nosy, very curious, and very, very unexperienced in the ways in the
world. These attributes culminated into a horrible event last Sunday,
when Stella got her mouth around the union of an extension cord and a
computer cord. She was shocked so violently that she peed herself. I
had literally had to pull cords apart while they were in her mouth,
after which Stella cried and screamed and hid out under the bed for
the rest of the day. The next day, I had a chance to inspect Stella’s
mouth. It turned out that she got a really nasty burn on the inside of
her cheek. At the center of this burn was some weird piece of plastic
that had been cauterized to her skin by the heat of the shock —
really scary stuff. After taking her to Dr. Nicholas’s office for a
check-up, we found out that electrical shocks can also cause pulmonary
edema and arrhythmia. Even scarier stuff. So. Be careful around
electrical cords! And tell your dogs to be even more careful! Never in
our wildest dreams did we imagine that little Stella would, (a), bite
into a cord, (b), shock and burn herself on a cord, or, (c), put her
heart, her lungs, and her overall health in serious danger right in
our living room next to where we sat. So be careful! Keep electrical
cords out of your doggie’s way!