A few thoughts on Christmas.
Christmas is a joyous season and the perfect time to spend with the ones we love. It is not the perfect time to spend at the Animal ER. Is there ever a perfect time? With that in mind, here are a few words of caution as you celebrate the Christmas season;
Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias are all toxic plants. If you have pets that are prone to eat whatever plant or unfamiliar item you bring into your house, be careful. You can buy plastic or “fakes” of all of these and they are much cheaper than a trip to the ER.
I don’t see many people decorating their Christmas trees with tinsel anymore and that is probably a good thing. Cats love to eat it. My father ended up with his cat at the veterinary office for surgery because the cat was completely impacted with tinsel it had been eating off the tree. Expensive surgery. Merry Christmas. No one saw the cat doing it, and in the spirit of complete disclosure, my father kept moving tinsel from higher on the tree to lower because he thought he had missed a few spots decorating.
Anchor your Christmas tree to the wall. Your tree stand will likely not support your lovely tree if your cat decides it looks like a good place to climb. My experience was with my rottweiler, Raven. One hundred pounds of big, stupid fun. Imagine me, enjoying Charlie Browns Christmas Special on the television with my back to the tree. Imagine Raven, 100 pounds of big, stupid fun deciding he needed to investigate something interesting on the tree. As I became aware of the telltale sounds of jingling Christmas ornaments, it only took moments for my brain to process what could possibly be causing that sound. I spun, I shrieked “RAVEN NO!!” Raven panicked, garland wrapped around his neck, Raven panicked more, Raven ran. As the garland unspoiled up the tree, launching and shattering ornaments in a glittering display of holiday bombardment, I made a split-second tactical decision…I went for the dog. It was the wrong decision. I realized too late that I should have gone for the tree. With panicked rottweiler in one hand, I strained to reach for the tree which now teetered on the precarious precipice between safety and disaster. Disaster won as I watched my tree slowly topple past the balance point of no return and, jingling and flashing in a merry display Christmas cheer, crash loudly to the floor. It was glorious. The cleanup was not. Consider yourself warned. (No Rottweilers were injured in the making of this story.)
Be careful with Christmas ribbons lying around. Cats will investigate them as well. Cats have these nifty little spurs on their tongues to help groom. The spurs will also grab any linear object a cat is chewing and force them to swallow it.
And finally, Christmas is a time for food and it is often displayed like no other time of year. Chocolate is highly toxic so be careful where you leave it. Growing up, my German Shepherd, Sasha, possessed of a cunning mind and voracious appetite, ate an entire plate of lovingly decorated cookies. Another year she consumed the entire carcass of a carved turkey that we had foolishly left in the open when we rushed off late for midnight mass. Again, the cleanup was not glorious. Sasha’s stomach finally met its match in the form of a collection of turkey bones.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Safe Holiday Season!
~ Dr. Randy Eisel