SAN ANTONIO - The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year for many people but it can be downright deadly for our four-legged friends.
As the temperatures drop more pets are spending more time indoors giving them plenty of opportunities to find trouble.
Emergency vet clinics are often the first place pet owners go when their critters get into trouble and this time of year holiday decorations are big problem.
"You should stay away from tinsel. Ribbon and packaging materials can be real dangerous," said Dr. Greg Lisciandro, an emergency veterinarian. "Dogs will ingest that too, and even the lights on your tree. You know a cat might rub up against that and start chewing on the cord and get electrocuted."
Lisciandro said there are plenty of other dangerous items in your home that can make your pets sick.
For dogs, simple things like chocolates, grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts and sago palms can be very toxic.
Another potential deadly substance for dogs is the sweetener xylitol, which can be found in a number of sugar-free products. Lisciandro said it can cause liver failure and lead to death.
Cats are more likely to get sick from eating flowers, especially any type of lily.
You should also keep all tobacco products away from pets and be cautious of medications and household chemicals.
When it comes to the cold weather Lisciandro suggests you bring your animals inside but make sure the area you put them in is safe.
"With this cold weather, sometimes you move your pets into a garage setting. Well, they're not used to that and if you have rat bait or any cleaning products or anything with anti-freeze in it, you know, they're thirst is going to be stimulated in cold weather and they may get into something that certainly is very dangerous for them," Lisciandro said.
Lisciandro suggests pet owners do a sweep of their homes and animal proof them much like you would for a small child.
If your pet's temperament changes suddenly or they're having difficulty breathing or have prolonged diarrhea or vomiting episodes, you should get them checked out soon.
You can also call the National Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435.
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