Pet Safety over the holidays

Graciela Paramo, reporter

One third of Morton East students report pet accidents during the Christmas/New Year season.

With the holidays just around the corner, whether you gave it a thought or not, our furry friends are brought with unique sets of safety hazards that we must be aware of:  some completely unexpected and thought to be once harmless, others, complete accidents but that could have been prevented. According to VetMD emergency and specialty care, pancreatitis is one of the most common reason pets are rushed to the emergency room.  Pancreatitis is when the pancreas are overworked and become inflamed due to a meal high in fat — from eating, for example, leftover turkey skin, ham scraps, and beef roast trimmings. Symptoms include severe vomiting, abdominal pain, and dehydration. Also, pancreatitis sometimes requires hospitalization with intravenous fluids and medications for recovery.  According to ASPCA, another food that should be avoided would be sweets sweetened with xylitol, bones, and keep an eye on alcoholic beverages on the floor. Other potential dangers include Christmas trees falling on pets and pets drinking the stagnant water (bacteria breeding ground) from the tree stand. Mistletoe and holly, tinsel which if digested can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery.  Keep an eye on lighted candles, and lastly keep wires and batteries and glass and plastic ornaments away from pets (and children); wires can cause electrical shocks and batteries can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.

In a random survey of 59 Morton East students, 23 reported some sort of accident their pet had during the holidays while, 36 reported no accidents. According to preventive vet, “The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, the pioneers in pet poison control, received over 140,000 calls related to pet exposures to toxic substances in 2009 and more than 167,000 such calls in 2010. Many of these calls were related to common household products that are likely present in your pet’s environment right now.” And according to the chart below, this is what ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center handled in 2009:


  • 45,816 calls involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements
  • 29,020 calls related to insecticides
  • 17,453 calls pertaining to people food
  • 7,680 for veterinary medications
  • 7,858 calls related to ingestion of common house and garden plants
·         4,143 for household cleaners
  • 3,304 related to heavy metals (lead, zinc, and mercury)
  • 2,329 for fertilizer and other garden products
  • 2,175 for household and automotive chemicals


And according to some staff at Morton East, student pets aren’t the only ones who’ve had an accident before, “I think any hanging decorations that are hung up can pose a threat like long curtains, garland and Christmas lights. My cat a couple years back got caught up in the Christmas tree and destroyed everything, she was fine but destroyed everything. I’ve also had a friend who a similar incident happened to her. You know that can be really dangerous actually it can get caught around their necks, like the Christmas lights or the garland too,” Teacher Mrs. Judge said.

And so it seems other pet owners have similar events where there pet has gotten injured or hurt due to different situations.

“My dog slipped down the stairs when it was really snowy outside, and it was bad his spine got dislocated but he was okay after a while but shouldn’t have left the door open,” Sophomore David Dehoyos said.

A lot of things can go wrong, especially really unexpected things we never really think about.

“Yeah there’s stuff that happens to my dog Zack. Zack suffer from the winter from salt on the street. Like I’ve heard the salt irritates paws. And then refuses to walk. And I worry about him licking his paws- salt can be poisonous if ingested,” Journalism teacher Mr. Kent Frankfother said.

Being a pet owner involves lots of responsibly but one sometimes forget to close gates or cages and doors, but accidents happen.

“My snakes cage us sometimes left open, and as he slithered out his cage he would develop cuts on his body. Most likely from the opening of the cage or rocks,” Sophomore Jacklyn Padilla said.

And according to other students they can agree the main attraction in their house and the decorations poses threats to their pets for sure.

“The Christmas decorations, the food that can be dangerous, and the people, snakes don’t really like people,” Sophomore Jacklyn Padilla said.

And sometimes accidents could happen involving other pets.

“The Christmas tree, cat to the lizards, she actually killed my pet bird,” Sophomore David Dehoyos said.

And it seems even with multiple pets in the home they can actually pose a threat to each other, maybe best to keep them separated sometimes.

“My two lizards are also aggressive and have gotten into fights with each other before,” Sophomore David Dehoyos also said.

It does seem though that most pet owners are already aware of the hidden dangers that can cause harm to their pets.

“Poinsettia plants are poisonous. All those chocolates and sweets around Christmas, dogs can’t digest that,” Journalism teacher Mr. Kent Frankfother said.

Sometimes instead of hidden dangers, more obvious dangers can be present too.

“The obvious cold too,” Journalism teacher Mr. Kent Frankfother said.

As mentioned before most pet owners agree Christmas decorations can be quite dangerous.

“I’ve heard stuff about the Christmas lights, the cords and outlets that are left out, hooks on ornaments, tinsel, even Christmas presents, like the ribbon would pose choking hazards,” Journalism teacher Mr. Kent Frankfother said.

For some it’s a must to remember to lock cages and or set up some sort of boundaries to protect against escape.

“Make sure you lock their cage, keep them away from party guests, and place a toy to keep them entertained,” Sophomore Jacklyn Padilla said.

Barriers are the way to go when trying to prevent any pets getting loose and patiently getting hurt or hurting others.

“We keep them upstairs, we put up dog gates, and we don’t do much because they’re old,” Sophomore David Dehoyos said.

We all certain foods shouldn’t be feed to our beloved pets and it looks like most pet owners do their own research and what/ what shouldn’t be feed to their pets.

“I think maybe certain pet treats that seem safe, might contain harmful chemicals,” Sophomore Jacky Padilla said.

And most agree pet treats are not as safe as once thought..

“I think certain pet toys and food or treats, could contain harmful parts not meant to be eaten, or filled with chemicals,” Sophomore David Dehoyos said.

The same topic of food seems to be a similar idea pet owners share amongst each other.

“I think some of our food people don’t really think could be all that dangerous,” Teacher Mrs. Judge said.

But sometimes it can be hard when our pets can be so cute and we feel that need to spoil and be a little overprotective over our babies!

“I try to keep food away from our dog, but other than that no, she’s so spoiled,” Teacher Mrs. Judge said.

And maybe just sometimes it wouldn’t hurt to take extra precautions, just to avoid anything during this cold and snowy season.

“You know, I didn’t think I’d be that person, I bought my dog a winter jacket,” Journalism teacher Mr. Frankfother said.

“We never used to buy any accessories but now he shivers without his jacket,” Journalism teacher Mr. Frankfother said.