The end-of-year holiday season can present sometimes unsuspected dangers for our pets
Trees, decorations, ornamental plants… constitute so many risks of injury, poisoning, or even accidents that can often be avoided by being aware of these risks. You must also keep an eye on embedded fully ticks on dogs because they can cause some serious diseases for your pets. Once you have found them on your pet’s skin, try to remove them as quickly as possible by using a tick remover for cats.
What could be more stressful than having to rush to your veterinarian during the holidays or find an on-call clinic?
However, the end-of-year celebrations unfortunately give rise to an increase in emergency consultations, consultations due to some imprudence of our companions…
So that nothing comes to spoil your celebrations, it is possible to take a few precautions.
Prevent the risk of injury
Prevent the risk of shocks
What could be more tempting than playing with the tree for a dog or a cat? And not just in young animals!
The risk of the tree falling should be considered whether it is because the animal is trying to climb it or because it wants to play with the decorations it is wearing.
As you would with children, you should ensure that the tree is stable enough to prevent any risk of injury.
Prevent the risk of cuts
More than the tree itself, it is the decorations used to adorn it that can be dangerous for dogs, cats and even NACs (new pets). All decorations likely to break (balls, candlesticks, etc.) must be placed high up to avoid any risk of being cut.
Prevent the risk of electrocution
Electric garlands present a risk of electrocution in dogs, cats and even more so in certain NACs such as ferrets and rodents who particularly like to nibble on anything that comes their way. These garlands must therefore be placed out of their reach or protected with special sheaths.
Prevent the risk of strangulation
“Traditional” garlands present a risk of strangulation for the animal that would be tempted to play with them.
Caught in the “trap”, the animal often tends to struggle, which only makes things worse. He tightens the rope around his neck even more, causing significant respiratory discomfort that can go so far as to cause the death of the animal.
Prevent choking hazards
The ingestion of pieces of garland in greater or lesser quantities can, moreover, cause suffocation by obstructing the back of the animal’s throat.
You should also be wary of decorations such as “angel strings”, which are even finer than traditional garlands and can also cause suffocation.
The problem is that very often, the animal that has ingested this type of decoration is not caught in the act.
Any animal that shakes its head or paws its muzzle should attract the attention of its owner.
The first thing to do before taking an animal suffering from choking or strangulation to the vet without waiting is to try, if possible, to find out what is causing it… by trying to open its mouth and removing the ‘object.
Garlands and other types of objects that are described as “linear” (curtain threads, garbage bag ties, etc.) will not only be able to cause the death of the animal by strangulation or suffocation, but they can also be responsible for an intestinal occlusion, just like any small element of decoration (pieces of subjects, pieces of balls…) which could be ingested by the animal.
Occlusion occurs when the animal fails to naturally eliminate the absorbed object. Depending on the part responsible, there is a risk of stopping digestive transit, perforation, or even peritonitis. You must therefore react without delay and consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Depending on the location of the object, the disorders will increase and the general condition of the animal will deteriorate more or less rapidly.
Again, the animal was not always seen absorbing the foreign body. This will make the diagnosis more difficult, especially since the first symptoms (discomfort, refusal to eat, vomiting, constipation or more or less bloody diarrhea, apathy, refusal to go to bed, etc.) may take more or less time to appear. appear.
Any change in your pet’s behavior and any deterioration in its general condition should alert you.
A precise description of these disorders can guide your veterinarian and help him in his diagnosis.
He will carry out a thorough auscultation. Palpation will sometimes detect a foreign body, but an X-ray, ultrasound or endoscopy will often be necessary to highlight and locate the foreign body.
In some cases, the treatment may be medical. This concerns small parts that do not present a risk of injury during their transit through the digestive tract.
Except for these cases, the veterinarian will have to perform surgery after rehydrating the animal to remove the object in question.
During the holiday season, many candles are often part of the decor.
In this case, beware of the risk of burns, especially with small “night light” type candles which are often easily accessible by animals.
A small burn appears as a redness on the surface of the skin.
For minor burns, the affected part should be rinsed with cold water, disinfected with an antiseptic solution (Betadine, Hibitane 5%, etc.) then covered with a healing lotion or ointment. A dressing will then be applied and changed daily.
If the burn, even a small one, concerns a fragile area (eyes, mouth, joints, etc.), whether it is a 2nd degree burn (blister filled with water) or a 3rd degree burn (dermis, epidermis and lower layers of the skin being then affected), you must consult your veterinarian as soon as possible so that he can examine the wound, clean it as appropriate and judge the treatment to be put in place to limit any risk of superinfection.
Prevent the risk of poisoning
During the end of year celebrations several kinds of festive plants are used to decorate the house.
These plants should never be kept within reach of your animals because many of them are toxic by contact or by ingestion.
This is particularly the case with poinsettia, mistletoe, holly and yew, a type of pine that is used, among other things, for making Advent wreaths.
The individuals most affected by these poisonings will be young people who like to discover their environment by “chewing” or even ingesting the various objects present in their living environment.
The Poinsettia or “Christmas star”
It is highly appreciated for its decorative virtues, but repeated contact with this plant or its ingestion in large quantities by your pet can have serious consequences…
Its toxicity is linked to the presence of various substances in the plant, including latex.
The most poisonous parts are the stems and leaves. Contact of the mucous membranes with toxic substances or ingestion of these parts of the plant in large quantities can trigger various symptoms:
Eye damage: eye redness, conjunctivitis, swelling of the eyelids, even dilation of the pupils and loss of vision.
Skin lesions: the skin in contact with the latex may show significant inflammation with the possible appearance of small blisters or even edema.
Digestive disorders: irritation of the mouth, gastric irritation with vomiting.
The intoxicated animal refuses to eat, may show signs of abdominal pain and suffer from more or less marked diarrhea.
In cases of massive ingestion of the plant, the intoxicated animal shows sign of agitation, general disorders (pallor, sweating, hypothermia, chills, etc.) then more serious symptoms may occur such as:
- hematological disorders (destruction of red blood cells),
- cardiac disorders (heart rhythm disorders, hypotension) or neurological disorders (muscle tremors, dizziness, etc.) which may progress to the death of the animal.
Rinse the eyes with physiological serum can be carried out in the event of contact with the latex. It is then necessary to take the intoxicated dog or cat as quickly as possible to the veterinarian so that he can set up an appropriate treatment.
Mistletoe balls contain a substance called viscotoxin which causes, a few hours after its absorption by an animal, different types of disorders:
- Digestive disorders: salivation, vomiting, diarrhea observed a few hours after ingesting the berries.
- Severe hypotension
- Nervous disorders: dilation of the pupils, increased sensitivity of the animal (which overreacts to the slightest stimulus), even abnormal gait (with incoordination in movements and balance disorders)
Symptoms vary depending on the dose ingested and the size of the animal. A massive ingestion of mistletoe can be fatal.
There is no antidote for viscotoxin.
If you have seen your pet ingest mistletoe berries or suspect that they have swallowed them, go to your veterinarian immediately.
The toxicity of mistletoe is not negligible, it is advisable to monitor your pet and ensure that it has direct access neither to the plant nor to berries which could have fallen to the ground.
Like those of mistletoe, holly berries are poisonous. Holly leaves also have some toxicity but are very rarely ingested due to the presence of prickles on their surface.
The symptoms observed following the absorption of holly are those of oral irritation (significant salivation), irritation of the digestive tract (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain) and possible nervous disorders if the berries have been ingested in very large amount.
The toxicity of holly is less than that of mistletoe and its absorption is rarely fatal.
In all cases, poisoning is a veterinary emergency and should be consulted without delay. Do not let the animal eat or drink and especially do not give it milk which is said to be an anti-poison. A received idea that has a hard life!
If the animal has been caught in the act, it is useful to bring a piece of the ingested plant to the veterinarian, which will facilitate the rapid implementation of appropriate treatment.