Holiday Hazards

Christmas Tree

 

Most dog and cat owners are aware that the holidays can be a dangerous time for our furry companions – I had a cat who used to eat all ribbons. My Christmas tree looked so sad with boring packages beneath it. That is, until I got a cat who ate the tree. So bye-bye Christmas tree and branches all around the house.

Our exotic pets have some of the same issues. Birds, rabbits and rodents should be on the lookout for the following:

  •  Holiday trees and Plants can have toxins in or on them – some trees are sprayed with chemicals and the water at the base may have fertilizers in it. Toxic holiday plants include
    • Chrysanthemum
    • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
    • Holly (Iles spp.)
    • Mistletoe (Viscum album)
    • Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
    • Yew (Cephalotaxus sp.)
    • Lilies, Laurel and Christmas Rose

Poinsettia

Poinsettia

Mistletoe Berries

Mistletoe Berries

Yew

Yew

  •  Decorations run the gamut of possible problems.
    • Physical hazards such as getting stuck in them and wounds due to broken glass or metal parts.
    • Holiday decorations are often cheaply made and may be contaminated with toxic metals.
    • Tinsel and ribbons can cause obstruction in the stomach or intestines.
    • Metallic wrapping paper can be either a toxin or cause an obstruction.
Ribbons Wicker lights Metallic Gifts
  •  Electric Wires are often in new and fun spaces – they may cause burns and even death if a pet bites down too hard.
  •  Fumes and Smoke.
    • Scented candles, room fresheners, ornaments…
    • Extra household cleaning with strong chemicals
    • Avoid fire logs that contain toxins or smoky irritants which are a special hazard to birds.
  •  Cooking – holidays often mean an increase in kitchen activity
    • More pots of boiling water, hot pans, cookies or candies available for stealing.
    • The usual suspects should not be shared with pets (caffeine, avocado, alcohol and chocolate).
    • Avoid novel or excessive food sharing because these can cause GI upset.
  •  Holiday Stress is not just for humans.
    • Novel decorations, increased activity, visitors and guests can all be upsetting for some of our more shy pets.
    • Guests that are not familiar with birds, rabbits and rodents may not be able to read their body language – and no one wants a “bite-fling” injury!
    • I recommend discouraging furry visitors – unless your pet has previously been introduced – because the holidays are hard enough without bringing a predator into the home.

 

Just in case – know when your veterinarian is open (or closed) this December/January, know which emergency clinic you can take your exotic pet to, and know the poison control phone number ASPCA (888) 426-4435.

ASPCA

Look Ma, no toes!

Pickle post

Pickle is one lucky little rat. She came in a few days after getting her foot stuck in a vent. Based on the injuries, it looked like a steam burn. A very bad steam burn.  The photos are not nice so they won’t be posted.

All of Pickle’s toes ended up falling off, but the foot (and the attached ratty) healed. This was due to a number of factors, but the owner’s dedication was definitely an important one.

What Happened Here?

At Bay Area Bird Hospital we see animals that get better without tons of invasive treatments as well as ones that don’t make it despite everything we tried. We work hard to treat correctly – just enough and not too much but it’s rough not knowing that if we just do treatments x, y and z then each pet will thrive.

Different factors play a role in how and why healing occurs.

  • Age – Youngsters, just like human kids, are healing machines while seniors tend to have delayed responses.
  • Nutrition – better diets mean the body has better building blocks to repair itself, better resistance to damage or disease and a better immune system.
  • Care – How well an owner can respond to their pet’s needs by modifying the environment, paying close attention to changes and treating as recommended can make a significant effect on the overall response.

 

In the end, prevention is the best medicine.