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Ornaments, Tinsel, Gift Wrap Ribbons. Tinsel and ribbon are favorite play items for most cats. Tinsel and ribbon can move and reflect light, looks pretty, but can be deadly if swallowed. If not addressed right away, tinsel can twist and bunch in the intestinal tract causing major damage, blockage, and even death. Beware of ornaments that also have glass, aluminum, or paper that could be ingested by cats or dogs. These items can lacerate (cut) your pet's mouth/throat/intestinal tract, cause choking hazards, or lead to foreign body obstruction. The last thing we want clients and patients to go through at any time, especially the holidays, is emergency surgery.

Holiday Lights and Candles. Lights are festive and fun to look at, but be sure your pet can not reach them. Not only is the electrical cord potentially fatal if chewed on, but pets can also get tangled in cords. Candles should be placed out of reach of pets since hot wax and burning flame can cause harm both to your pet and to your home.

Toxic Holiday Plants. Not all holiday plants are toxic, and not all pets chew on them, but it is still good to know the potential clinical signs. Some of the most popular potted plants around December are  Poinsettias and Christmas cactus. These can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach, and sometimes vomiting. Holly can cause very intense vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Pine needles can cause irritation to the mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, and weakness in the hind end. Mistletoe is the most harmful of all, potentially causing vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, frantic behavior due to hallucinations, and even death. Do not be scared to get your favorite holiday plants, just be aware of your pet's behavior and where the plant is displayed.

Food Hazards. Holidays can mean lots of visitors being around your pets, and when there is food available plenty of human food may be offered intentionally or otherwise to your cat or dog. While any food can cause some form of gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestinal tract), some foods can be very harmful or even fatal. Place garbage cans and scraps out of reach of pets who are likely to go searching for leftovers. Any food that your pet is not used to, particularly human foods, can lead to vomiting and diarrhea if fed to your dog or cat. Some nuts, like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or an obstruction in the throat and/or small intestine. Moldy walnuts and macadamia nuts can cause toxicity leading to lethargy and seizures. Bones (especially turkey or chicken) and fat trimmings from meat can also lead to serious problems. Bones can cause choking or can splinter and cause laceration of the gastrointestinal system or a blockage. Too much fat can cause pancreatitis, which is associated with vomiting, diarrhea, and a painful abdomen. Pets with pancreatitis may need intense treatment and hospitalization. One of the most notoriously harmful sweets for dogs is chocolate. The darker the type of chocolate, the more harmful. Chocolate toxicity can cause urination, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, heart arrhythmia, and tremors/seizures. Xylitol is often found in sugar-free baked goods and is very dangerous to pets. Being aware of and avoiding potentially dangerous holiday hazards will help assure the happiest holidays for you and your pet.

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Understanding the Reverse Sneeze

A reverse sneeze is a sudden, uncontrollable and forceful inhalation of air through the nose. It’s exactly what the name implies—a sneeze, only drawing in air as opposed to forcing air out. You may be startled and concerned because it looks worse than it is. Dogs cannot control the reflex any more than we can control a sneeze. And most of the time, there are runs of reverse sneezes, not just one. What’s going on? We can surmise that dogs feel the familiar tickle before they reverse sneeze just like we do before a regular one.

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