Whitney Torkel-Finchfield, from Vic West Pet Hospital, with a local pup.

From tinsel to toxic foods, 10 tips to keep your furry friend healthy this winter

Preventive measures are key for pet safety

Winter can be a special time for families gathering for the holidays and cold-weather activities, but the season poses some specific risks for four-legged friends.

The good news is that with a little care and planning, winter can be a wonderful experience for all family members, notes Dr. Vandeep Shergill, owner of Vic West Pet Hospital and marking three decades as a veterinarian committed to animal welfare.

  1. Pass on the people food: While yummy for you, chocolate is toxic to pets, so resist the urge to “treat” them. The same is true for goodies containing raisins, which like grapes, can be toxic, and the artificial sweetener Xylitol – toxic to dogs with the potential for vomiting, loss of co-ordination, seizures, liver failure and death.

    “It’s simply best to make sure all human treats are kept away from where your pets can get to them,” Dr. Shergill says.

  2. Avoid alcohol: Alcohol is also common around the holidays but even a small amount could cause trouble for your furry friend.
  3. Time out for tinsel: Tinsel and string can be dangerous for curious critters. Cats (and some dogs) are attracted by shiny things and because tinsel is thin, sharp and hard to break, it can wrap around or ball up in your pet’s intestine, causing a blockage or rupture, Dr. Shergill says. Watch for vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, constipation, tarry stools, lethargy, excessive drooling, abdominal bloating or pain, remaining still or refusing to lie down.
  4. Ornamental observations: Beyond tinsel, other ornaments can contain sharp edges that can damage eyes, mouth or feet.
  5. Powerful problems: Many families love holiday lights, but watch for curious young pets that can also be tempted to chew, leading to an electrical shock.
  6. Mindful of meds: Remind visiting guests to keep medications high and out of reach of any pets.
  7. Plants + pets: Christmas plants are festive, but some are toxic. Holly berries, Christmas cacti, poinsettias and the amaryllis flower can irritate pets’ systems, while mistletoe can cause serious health issues, Dr. Shergill notes. Lilies are also extremely toxic to cats.
  8. Tree tips: Fir trees produce an irritating oil, while consumed needles can obstruct or puncture internal organs. The water nourishing the tree can also cause extreme illness if bacteria, molds and fertilizers are present.
  9. Poison patrol: If cold weather has you filling your vehicle’s radiator, watch for spills of antifreeze, containing deadly ethylene glycol. Clean all spills and If you think your pet may have consumed antifreeze, contact your vet immediately. Caution is also urged for those considering rodent poison, which can harm pets if the poison – or affected rodents – is consumed.
  10. Bang-on safety: On cold mornings, give your vehicle hood a good band before starting your car. Animals climb under the hood as a way to seek shelter and warm up next to the engine.

    ***

Vic West Pet Hospital serves Vic West and Esquimalt residents from 526 Esquimalt Rd. Convenient hours welcome patients from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Scam arrives on Saanich senior’s doorstep

Pair of fraudulent officers threaten to arrest 90-year-old woman

Pandora supervised consumption site has busy first month

Site whose aim is to save lives takes on a new client-driven name: The Harbour

Victoria’s plastic bag ban inspires local entrepreneur to give back

Karebags a local, collaborative alternative for reusable bags, donates profits to charity

Project provides barrier to suicides at hospital parkade

VIHA budgets $650,000 for work at Royal Jubilee Hospital parkade

VIDEO: How we make our newspapers

Ever wonder how Black Press Media gets over 100,000 papers out to your communities?

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

RV insurance costs $1,000 more in B.C. than in Alberta: taxpayers group

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Summerland issues State of Local Emergency in response to wildfire

Two homes under evacuation order; evacuation alert remains in place as result of wildfire

A brother’s determination pushes B.C. cyclist to ride 2,500 km for heart care

#Cunnycan: Ryan Cunningham ‘pushing the envelope’ to support brother Craig’s foundation

B.C. hockey coach, nurse was killed in case of mistaken identity, police say

In Surrey, Paul Bennett’s wife makes a tearful plea for help in finding her husband’s killer

Lower Mainland blueberry farms expect solid season

Blueberry Council of B.C. says season will be better than last year

Most Read