Vacations offer many dangerous temptations, so pet owners should practice these safety tips

The holiday season can present a whole host of temporary dangers for your pet, from the Christmas tree to gift wrapping accessories and leftover holiday treats.

Dr. Caroline Maguire, director of the emergency department at the Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine in North Haven, said her hospital sees a higher number of emergencies around the holidays.

She said there are two main reasons for this. First, a family’s primary veterinary clinic is often closed or on restricted hours during the holidays. Second, pets are more likely to get into trouble when homes are full of new decorations and new people.

Maguire said her clinic sees many cases of pets ingesting things they shouldn’t. “Tinsel and ribbons are a big one, especially with cats,” she said.

Decorating your home with Christmas lights also comes with its own dangers. “We see electrical injuries and electrocution from chewing those cords,” Maguire said.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends disconnecting decorations while you are not there.

Even being in the house doesn’t mean you’re paying attention to what your pet is doing.

When entertaining friends and family, Maguire said to confine your pet to a safe space, such as a crate or room that you know will be picked up.

Human food is for people, not pets.

Dr. Maguire also recommends not giving your pets human food as a holiday treat. She said fatty foods can cause problems with a pet’s pancreas and gastrointestinal tract.

Don’t give your dog bone leftovers either. “They can lead to things like breaking teeth, getting stuck in the intestinal tract and causing impactions,” she added.

Prepare now for an emergency

Even if you take every precaution to keep your pets safe, emergencies can still arise.

Dr. Maguire remembered her most bizarre holiday emergency.

“They were doing a Santa photo shoot and him [the dog] reached out and pulled off his relative’s entire Santa hat and swallowed it. she said. “So that was an interesting holiday emergency surgery to remove the Santa hat.”

That’s why it’s good for pet owners to have a care plan in place in case an unexpected emergency arises.

Dr. Matt Kornatowski, vice president of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association, said, “Know where the closest emergency facilities are and then expand that search a bit and be prepared to travel to those areas.”

Before driving to an emergency room, “calling ahead to see what kind of wait times are available can be very helpful for you and for the clinics,” he said.

Kornatowski said if you have a pet emergency, you should be prepared to wait, depending on the severity of your situation. The veterinary sector is struggling with a national staff shortage.

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