Christmas Tree Safety Tips

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

You’re in the kitchen making dinner; it’s a typical weeknight. Then, all of a sudden, you hear it.

Rustle rustle rustle

Startled, you put down the salad you’re preparing and walk out the living room. Then, you hear another noise.

Rustle rustle clink…meow

You almost don’t want to look, but you know you have too.

Your cat has scaled the Christmas tree again, this time taking a couple of ornaments down with her. As you go to grab her from amidst the branches, you notice she has sap stuck in between her claws and you wonder: “Is my Christmas tree really safe for my cat to be around?”

Keeping your cat or dog safe is always one of your top priorities, and ours as well. That’s why we would like you to have these tips for ensuring the health of your pet (and your Christmas tree) this holiday season.

  • Don’t flock your tree! Although the fake snow looks aesthetically pleasing, the substance can be toxic if ingested by your furry friend. 
  • Keep your pets away from the tree water. If you are investing in a real Christmas tree, it may have been treated with chemical preservatives. Deter your pet from drinking out of the base of the tree by purchasing a tree skirt or placing objects in front as a barrier. 
  • Hang lights higher up on the tree. Your pet plus Christmas lights equal a potential fire hazard and possible bodily harm to your animal. Do your best to keep them hung at a height that your pet can’t reach. 
  • Invest in soft ornaments. If your pet is especially rambunctious, it may not be a bad idea to use ornaments that are made of a softer material rather than glass or metal. That way, if your pet causes your decorations to fall to the ground, there will be less destruction and mess. 
  • Don’t let your pet eat the needles. In the case of real Christmas trees, their needles can be mildly toxic to pets and cause gastrointestinal issues.
  • Ditch the tinsel and the edible decorations. If a pet ingests tinsel, it can often lead to surgical removal. Popcorn strings can pose a similar danger and also disrupt a pet’s stomach. 

With the proper steps, both your pet and your tree can live together in peace. But of course, if you have any questions about additional steps you can take, please give our team a call! We’d love to help.

Preparing for Your New Dog

Bringing home a new puppy or dog is one of the most exciting things! You’re inviting a new family member into your life – one who will impact you significantly! While you’re likely more than ready for all of the snuggles and licks, there are often many things we forget to prepare for.

Our certified vet tech, Tiana, has some excellent advice for making sure you and your home are ready for your new furry friend.

How to Keep Your Pet Safe at Halloween

How to Keep Your Pet Safe at Halloween

Halloween is an excellent time of year for tricks and treats but is also potentially dangerous for our pets. Many emergency clinics and poison control centers report that Halloween is one of their busiest times of the year. Keeping your pet safe this Halloween can be simple.

Keep candy bowls and bags hidden away. Remember this not only during trick or treat time, but also the days before and after. Curious pets can find candy bags easily. It only takes a minute unsupervised for a dog or cat to get into a lot of trouble.

  • Chocolate is one of the most common exposures in our dogs, although some cats will try apiece. The critical thing to remember is that the darker and less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it is to our pets. A small amount of milk chocolate may not cause an issue in a large Labrador but could show signs in a tiny Chihuahua. Any ingestion of a dark bakers chocolate should be considered an emergency. White chocolate does not generally cause any toxic issues. The ingredient in chocolate that causes problems is a methylxanthine. It acts similarly to caffeine.
    • The most common signs include: restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate and blood pressure
    • More advanced symptoms can include: tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rhythm, fever, collapse, and even death
  • Raisins (grapes) can be found in some candies and are not healthy for dogs. It is unclear how they affect cats. Although some dogs can ingest a small amount with no clinical signs, there is considerable variation. The symptoms we see do not appear to be dose-dependent. As raisins are dehydrated, they seem to be more toxic than grapes. Because of the potentially deadly effects, they should always be avoided in pets altogether.
    • The most common signs include: vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, abnormal drinking/urination
    • More advanced symptoms can consist of: acute kidney failure. This is most often seen 1-3 days after ingestion.
  • Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is in some candies, gums, and food. It is primarily an issue for dogs.
    • The first signs seen are associated with critically low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and include lethargy, collapse, tremors, and seizures. Occasionally vomiting will be seen. This requires medical intervention immediately to prevent possible coma and death.
    • With significant ingestion, the pets can be recovering from the low blood sugar and have secondary issues with the liver. The signs noted may include a yellow color to the skin (jaundice), lethargy, and vomiting.
  • Wrappers themselves can cause issues, especially in small dogs and cats. They can cause vomiting and diarrhea or even an intestinal blockage that may require surgery.
  • Sticks from lollipops can also irritate or get lodged in the intestinal tract.

Glow sticks and jewelry are rarely toxic but can irritate the mouth along with extreme salivation. Cats are more likely to investigate these fun items and try a quick taste.

  • What do you do if you think your pet may have ingested something toxic?
    • Call your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic right away. They will likely talk to you about having your pet come in to induce vomiting and start possible decontamination treatment. Treatment will vary depending upon the exposure and the individual pet’s clinical signs.
    • Pet Poison Centers can also be helpful. There is a fee associated with these services.

Open doors can be dangerous

  • Many pets are used to us coming and going through the door every day, but when those Trick or Treaters come knocking, the door may be open longer than usual. It is effortless for a pet to sneak out with a group of kids. Be sure to keep your pet safely on a leash, in another room or crate to keep them safe.
  • Be sure your pet has an ID tag on before opening a door.
  • If your pet has anxiety, make sure they are in a safe, secure place away from the hustle and bustle of the ghosts and goblins.

Keep your pets inside

  • Well-meaning kids may share candy that they should not.
  • Pranksters can play mean tricks on dogs or cats. Black cats, specifically, should be kept indoors.
  • Even outdoor pets should be brought indoors for their protection.

Costumes and Masks can be scary or even dangerous. Not all dogs and cats are used to seeing people dressed in costumes with hats and masks. This can be a very frightening thing. Costumes can also have small pieces that can be ingested, causing intestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. Unless your pet is used to wearing clothing, it is best to leave them costume free.

Avoid the use of candles to limit possible burns and fires.

Secure any cords to decrease chewing or getting tangled.

There are safe ways to involve your pets in Halloween. Consider a favorite treat or new toy to help them stay occupied and happy. Here is wishing everyone a Happy and Safe Halloween this year. May the treats be plenty, and the tricks be fun.


Benefits of a High-Def Microscope

Here at River Valley Veterinary Service, we have a new High-Def Microscope that allows up to show clients exactly what we are seeing. This will help us explain what your pets have going on with them. With the digital screen on the High-Def Microscope, we can more easily see what we need to look at and recall images if required! We are very excited about this new technology and know that it will help us build relationships with our clients and their furry family!

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