All Creatures VIRTUAL Veterinary Clinic

a Service of

All Creatures Mobile Veterinary Services
for Hancock County, Sneedville, TN (USA)

Call 733-1912 or 423-327-7962 today to set up a house call appointment.


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  Now doing Coggins Tests and Livestock Health Certificates.

Holiday-Proofing Your Pet

The holidays are an exciting time of year, but they can also be a dangerous time for pets. It's really worth the effort to take a few extra precautions to protect your devoted companions.

  • Holiday plants: Holly and mistletoe are extremely poisonous when eaten. The lovely poinsettia may not be truly poisonous, but its milky white sap and leaves can certainly cause severe gastric distress. With so many hybrid varieties available each year, the best approach is to keep the plants out of your pet's reach.
  • Tinsel is especially dangerous to cats, because as they lick at it, it gets caught up on those backward-facing papillae on their tongues (you know, the part that feels like sand-paper when they lick your face) and they can't spit it out… they swallow it. And then the trouble really begins.
  • Presents such as plastic toys and rawhide may be dangerous. Make sure they aren't easily swallowable or easy to crack, break or split. They can really clog up the plumbing - so badly that surgery may be required to correct it.
  • Electrical Cords: Pets may try to chew electrical cords and can get badly shocked or electrocuted. Place wires out of reach. Also be aware that lights on the lower tree branches of your Christmas tree can get very hot and burn or electrocute your pet.
  • Christmas Trees: Live and artificial Christmas tree needles are sharp and indigestible. Ingested pine needles can puncture your pet's intestines if sharp enough. Don't believe me? Just look at your hands and arms after you struggle with the tree to get it standing straight up.
    Keep your tree away from your pet by fencing off the room it's in. Some people use a playpen as a barrier. There are many kinds -- look for the sort made for pets. With cats, you may need to only let them in the same room under your direct supervision. I know it kind of makes you feel like a warden, but you may save your kitty's life.
    Also, make sure your tree is well secured. If you have a tree-climbing cat or large dog with a happy tail, anchor the top of the tree to the wall, using strong cord or rope. Preservatives often used in the water in a tree stand can cause gastric upsets, so be sure it is inaccessible or not used. Avoid sugar and aspirin additives in the water as well.
  • Ornaments: Don't use edible tree ornaments (like Milk Bones or toys containing catnip). Your pet may knock over the tree in his/her zeal to get to them. Commercial ornaments may contain paint or toxins. Glass ornaments break easily and can cut a pet's feet and mouth. And those ornament hooks! Don't get me started! String objects, especially tinsel and ribbons, are to be safeguarded at all costs. They are thin and sharp and can wrap around intestines or ball up in the stomach.
  • Fat: Those wonderful potato latkes (watch the hot oil!), gravies, and poultry skin can cause severe gastrointestinal upset as well.
  • Candles: Lighted candles should never be left unattended and that is even more important if left at kitty's eye level or within puppy's chewing zone. An exuberant tail, a swat of a paw, and candles and hot wax can quickly become disastrous. Anchor candles securely and away from curious faces and feet.
  • Stress and company: With everyone coming and going, watch out for open doors and sneaky pets. Make sure your pets have collars and tags on in case of escape. Ask guests to keep an eye out for pets under foot and remind them that sometimes your normally friendly dog or cat may be less than willing to deal with enthusiastic children and rooms full of unfamiliar people. Provide a special quiet place with a blanket and fresh water for your pets to retreat to when the festivities get too stressful.
  • Take Home (for the Holidays) Message: Give extra careful supervision to what goes into your pet's mouth during these hectic holidays.
  • On the Other Hand: By being a little extra cautious with your pets, there's every reason you should have a wonderful Holiday Season with Phydeaux (Cajun for "Fido") and Patches (English for "Patches"). Just watch out for them almost exactly the same way you'd watch out for a new toddler, and things should be just great.
  • Happy Holiday Season

    We hope that you will find this information helpful in your quest for better pet care. If you have any questions or comments, please call your veterinarian's office, or feel free to e-mail us.

    Dr. David Hammett and Linda Hammett
    All Creatures Mobile Veterinary Service

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