(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)
Last year, Nationwide pet insurance members spent more than $41 million on medical conditions commonly associated with the holiday season. During the four days surrounding Christmas Day and New Year’s Day last season, pet owners took their dogs and cats to the veterinarian more often than the rest of the year to treat these medical maladies.
The holiday season increases the opportunity for pets to get their paws on harmful foods, drinks and decorations. The most common toxic treats that Nationwide-insured pets ingested last holiday season were chocolates, nuts and raisins. In fact, 30 percent of all Nationwide pet insurance claims for chocolate toxicity occurred during the Christmas and New Year’s Day timeframe.
Some pets prefer to munch on non-digestible holiday items including tinsel, ribbon, gift wrap and ornaments. Ingestion of such items can lead to surgery, which is the most expensive medical condition on the holiday list with an average treatment cost of $1,803 per pet.
If a pet consumes toxic food or a foreign object, he or she should be taken to a veterinary hospital immediately. In preparation, pet owners should locate the nearest 24-hour emergency animal hospital prior to any holiday celebration.
“We encourage pet owners to be aware of the dangers that surround our pets during the holiday season,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary officer for Nationwide. “Food or sweets left on low-lying tables can be a major hazard and holiday decorations can easily become a harmful toy for household pets. Pet owners should take extra precautions during the holiday season, and always know the location of the nearest veterinary hospital and a phone number for an animal poison control center in case of an emergency.”
Nationwide pet insurance members have exclusive access to the VetHelpline to speak with a live veterinary professional 24-hours a day.
“We receive an increase in calls relating to drug toxicity during the holidays,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT and director, veterinary services and senior veterinary toxicologist for the Pet Poison Helpline. “This spike in calls can generally be attributed to guests visiting the homes of pet owners and leaving their purses or backpacks open with easy access for pets to get into its contents, which may include medication.”
For more information and tips to prevent holiday pet hazards, visit https://phz8.petinsurance.com/ownership-adoption/pet-ownership/pet-holidays/top-5-holiday-dangers-to-pets.
(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)