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Holiday Hazards: What to do if your Pet Swallowed Something Dangerous

graphic showing holiday health hazards for pets
Picture of Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

The holidays are a great time to spend time with your loved ones, including your pets. However, with all the delicious food, cheerful guests, and vibrant decorations, come potential hazards for our furry friends.

As a vet in Colorado Springs, we see a lot of dogs and cats come in for emergency visits during the holiday season after their owners discover that their pet has swallowed something dangerous. That’s why we have prepared a list of all the possible holiday dangers that a dog or cat to ingest, what signs to look out for, and what to do if your pet has swallowed something.

graphic showing holiday health hazards for pets

Holiday Food and Items that Can Be Dangerous for Dogs and Cats

Christmas food items—Chocolate, gravy, bones, raw meat scraps, uncooked potatoes, onions, garlic, grapes and raisins, artificial sweetener, coffee, tea, alcohol, and macadamia nuts are all dangerous foods to watch out for, especially as many of these items are found in staple holiday dishes.

Christmas trees and decorations—Christmas tree decorations are low enough to the ground that pets can easily access them. Especially as the holiday clean-up begins, ornaments break, Christmas trees shed their pine needles and bark, light bulbs shatter. Make sure that your pet is in a safe place as you dismantle the decor for the new year.

Trash—Keep an eye out for trash. From unwrapping presents on Christmas day, to throwing a New Years bash, trash accumulates, and pets can easily get into bags that aren’t stored away.

Symptoms that Your Pet has Swallowed Something:

Whether you have a suspicion that your dog or cat got into something or not, here’s what to watch out for:

  • Vomiting/regurgitation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Drooling

These symptoms usually don’t appear right away. Keep an eye on your pet several days after you think the incident occurred, or after a holiday.

Call Your Vet Immediately If:

  • You notice signs that the pet is choking.
  • Your pet cannot breathe.
  • A foreign object is lodged in the pet’s mouth.
  • The pet has been vomiting repeatedly.
  • The pet exhibits blood in the urine, feces, or vomit.

How a Veterinarian Can Help

While a vet should be contacted in the case of immediate danger, long-term health concerns from swallowing objects undetected should also be addressed. A qualified veterinarian can help your pet in the case of swallowed objects. Here’s what a common examination looks like if you believe your pet has eaten a foreign object:

  • First, the veterinarian will examine your pet to look for anything is lodged in its throat, abnormalities, or other health concerns. To best assist the veterinarian, come as prepared as possible with a recent history of the pet’s health and what may have caused the issue.
  • If a general clinical examination cannot reveal the problem, veterinarians may further examine your pet via digital x-ray. The vet can look for foreign bodies that may be causing obstruction, or changes in gas flow (which may be a sign of blockage). Other tests that may be required include an abdominal ultrasound, a blood test, or use of an endoscope.
  • Treatment for your pet depends on the type and severity of the problem. Possible treatments can include simply dislodging the item, administering vomit-inducing medications, or surgery if the item blocks essential functions.

Preventative Tips

However, the best treatment for your pet is simply preventing the problem before it occurs. Some tips to avoid your pet swallowing something they shouldn’t have include the following:

  • Keep hazardous objects out of the pet’s reach.
  • Instruct holiday guests to avoid feeding the pet leftover food items.
  • Clean up wrapping paper or other trash from the floor when finished.
  • Keep an eye on your pet to ensure their safety.
What Do You Do When Your Pet Swallows Something? Call Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic!

If you are looking for a reliable vet to keep your pet happy and healthy during the holidays and after, Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic offers the most affordable and comprehensive pet care in Colorado Springs. Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic is a family-owned, small-animal veterinary clinic that loves pets. With our skilled staff and top-of-the-line resources, we are equipped to handle any pet emergency this holiday season. Contact us to schedule a wellness exam or if you have any questions!

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