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Mind Your Pet This Holiday Season

Christmas trees, poinsettias and tinsel. All three are signs that the holiday season is here and while they provide stunning visuals, they could pose harm to your furry little friends, says one Mineola veterinarian.


Pet safety during the holidays is crucial, according to Dr. Aaron Vine of Central Vets of Mineola. For Vine, the leading cause of increased trips to the vet after the holidays is chocolate and tinsel. He has worked for Central Vets since 2003.


“Eating off the floor is a big one,” says Vine. “We see tons of chocolate ingestions during this time of the year. Tinsel is big with cats. There’s a lot of times when tinsel, while it can cause a tummy ache, can get stuck in the intestinal tract. If that happens, it can be very life threatening.”


Vine suggests that Christmas trees pose significant issues to pets, most notably the real ones. The water in the tree stand can sicken animals because of certain fertilizers, or bacteria found in the water. Vine recommends to not put aspirin in the water (some people place aspirin in the tree water to make it stronger).


“The [aspirin] can very bad sickness,” says Vine.


New toys from Santa Claus need care as well. While pets do chew up toys, Vine said he’s seen more cases of eaten ribbon or string show up in animal stomachs after Christmas. Small plastic pieces and rubber balls can causes blockages if ingested, which would need to be surgically removed.


“We’ve removed that from pets in the past,” he said. “Toys too. Maybe not the whole toy, but pieces of it, especially if you’re traveling with toys in the car and they happen to get in the bag.”


Holiday travel, according to Vine, centers on familiarity and comfort for pets. He suggests pet sweaters or booties that can protect your pet from the harsh winter weather.


Booties prevent your dogs’ paws from frostbite. Most importantly, the rock salt should be cleaned off the booties; if ingested, it can result in vomiting. 


“In terms of colder weather, keep them inside,” Vine stated. “It can get really cold this time of year and it affects their sense of smell. Also bring stuff of theirs from home if they’re traveling far so they have some familiarity with them in a different place.”


While pet owners can attempt to prepare for every scenario, Vine feels common sense rules over all. “Just keep an eye on your pet. If you’re a pet owner, you know your pet better than anyone else.”