Brooklyn veterinary clinic warns pet owners of winter holiday dangers
As people prepare to travel or host families for the holiday weekend, veterinarians from the Veterinary Emergency & Referral Group South (VERG) in Brooklyn are advising pet owners of the looming threats and risks that may affect their animal this holiday season, including candy, unfamiliar guests and dangerous decorations.
“Holidays can leave pet owners preoccupied with festivities that they easily overlook the needs of their pet,” said Dr. Brett Levitzke, chief medical officer of VERG. “Those who are traveling or hosting guests at their home can take the necessary precautions to ensure their pet is safe during the holiday season and avoid unexpected vet bills or tragedy.”
Levitzke suggests pet owners take the following precautions to ensure a safe holiday for their pet:
Beware of holiday candy. Your pet ingesting holiday candy, chocolate or other food containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can pose significant threats if ingested. Symptoms of ingesting harmful toxins like xylitol include vomiting, diarrhea, accelerated breathing or heart rate, loss of coordination, seizures, hypoglycemia and can even lead to death. VERG doctors recommend pet owners keep any candy in a confined, elevated location like a pantry.
Take caution with decorations. Pet parents should also take into consideration that Christmas decorations can pose a serious threat via choking, strangulation or other injuries. Tinsel, electric cords, candles and ornaments should be kept in areas out of reach of household pets for everyone’s safety. Pet owners should also securely anchor their Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip over and if there is a natural tree in the home, ensure the water is blocked off from pets, as stagnant water can hold bacteria that can make your pet sick if consumed.
Be careful with seasonal plants. Holiday plants like mistletoe, holly and many types of lilies can cause pets to become sick when ingested. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal and cardiovascular issues, while holly can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in pets. Certain lilies can cause kidney failures in cats if consumed. Consider decorating your home with artificial plants to ensure pet safety.
Avoid sharing leftovers. Fatty and spicy foods should not be given to your pets, as foods high in fat can cause pancreatitis when ingested, especially in dogs. Additionally, pet owners should avoid serving their dogs cooked bones, as they can splinter and cause severe digestive issues, sometimes resulting in expensive surgery or death.
Update your pet’s microchips and tags. If your pet is prone to running away, the continuous foot traffic of friends, family and other guests can increase the likelihood of a family pet escaping and running away. Pet owners should confine their pets to a secure area during peak visiting hours and ensure their pets are properly microchipped and wearing updated identification tags.
If you’re a pet owner experiencing an animal emergency, VERG is open 24 hours for pet owners who need guidance or assistance. For more information, please visit www.Verg-Brooklyn.com.
About Veterinary Emergency & Referral Group:
Veterinary Emergency & Referral Group (VERG) was formed in 2005 by Dr. Brett Levitzke to provide emergency services and specialty medicine to the Brooklyn community. Open 24-hours, seven days a week, VERG’s team of emergency doctors, specialty doctors, technicians and assistants are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care within a nurturing environment. Their services include cardiology, critical care, dermatology, emergency care, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, radiology and more.