shutterstock_118349755Nutritional Management of Osteoarthritis

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There is growing evidence of the role that nutrition can play in the management of veterinary patients with osteoarthritis. Current evidence supports nutritional management of body weight and dietary fortification with the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Additional studies suggest that supplements and diet additives such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, antioxidants, and green-lipped mussel may also have some benefit in managing osteoarthritis. Additional research evaluating pets with naturally occurring disease, using validated owner questionnaires and objective measurements, is needed.
Osteoarthritis commonly occurs in dogs in association with articular diseases such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and cranial cruciate ligament rupture. Osteoarthritis affects a large percentage of the canine population, approximately 20% of dogs older than 1 year.1 Awareness of osteoarthritis in the feline population is growing, with documentation of osteoarthritis in 10.6% of cats in a hospital survey of feline radiographic studies.2 Surgical and medical pain management have historically been the basis for treatment. However, there is growing evidence of the role that nutrition can play in the management of veterinary patients with osteoarthritis.

Weight Management

Nutritional management to help reach and maintain an ideal body condition is perhaps the single most effective means to help improve and maintain joint health. Obesity is known to increase stress on joint structures and articular cartilage. In addition, there is growing awareness of the metabolic activity of adipose tissue and the proinflammatory cytokines associated with obesity.3Paired with osteoarthritis, obesity may contribute to reduced activity, leading to an increased risk for weight gain and perpetuation of the negative cycle.

Key Points

  • Weight management should be part of the first-line approach in patients with osteoarthritis.
  • High levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA may help to modulate inflammation and improve clinical signs of disease.
  • Diets fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate may provide benefit, but supplementation may be needed to reach therapeutic dosages.
  • Supplements such as antioxidants and green-lipped mussel may provide additional benefits, but more research is needed.

Maintaining a lean body condition over an animal’s lifetime has been shown to reduce the onset and severity of osteoarthritis in dogs.4 In dogs with clinical hip osteoarthritis, weight reduction of 11% to 18% of initial body weight was associated with a significant decrease in hindlimb lameness as assessed by subjective veterinary orthopedic examination using a numerical rating scale and visual analogue scale.5 In a more recent study,6 weight loss in obese dogs with osteoarthritis was shown to reduce lameness using both subjective and objective measurements. In this study, the dogs lost an average of 8.85% of their initial body weight.6 Improvements in lameness were seen beginning at a weight loss of 6.1%, and improvements in kinetic gait analysis were seen beginning at a weight loss of 8.85%. Force plate analysis has demonstrated that changes in body weight significantly affect peak vertical force in dogs with osteoarthritis, helping to confirm that improvements seen with weight loss are repeatable with objective measurements.7 Obesity in cats has also been associated with an increased risk of joint disease, with one study demonstrating that overweight cats were 2.9 times as likely to be taken to the veterinarian for lameness compared with lean cats.8 To my knowledge, there have been no studies evaluating the impact of weight loss on mobility in cats, but based on studies in other species, a benefit would be expected.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The use of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may help modulate the inflammatory response. Fatty acids incorporated into cell membranes serve as precursors for prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and thromboxanes. Those generated from arachidonic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) are of the 2 and 4 series, while those generated from EPA (an omega-3 fatty acid) are of the less inflammatory 3 and 5 series. Therefore, feeding a diet that delivers high levels of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and a low omega-6–to–omega-3 fatty acid ratio (≤5:1) may help to control inflammation related to osteoarthritis. TABLE 1 lists currently available veterinary therapeutic diets indicated for joint disease and their omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid concentrations.
Veterinary therapeutic diets designed with high omega-3 fatty acid concentrations have been evaluated in three recent clinical trials in dogs with naturally occurring osteoarthritis.9–11 In the first two studies,9,10 dogs were fed a combination of an over-the-counter dry and canned diet delivering <0.01% combined EPA and DHA on a dry matter (DM) basis or a combination of a veterinary therapeutic dry and canned diet delivering approximately 0.81% combined EPA and DHA on a DM basis (2.25 g/100 kcal). The total omega 6:3 ratio was 24.33:1 in the control formula and 0.71:1 in the test formula. In the first study, there were no significant differences in investigator assessments of clinical signs at any of the assessment points over the 24-week study period; however, owner questionnaires showed that, compared with dogs fed the control diet, dogs fed the test diet had a subjectively improved ability to rise from a resting position and play at 6 weeks and an improved ability to walk at 12 and 24 weeks.9 In addition to veterinary examination and owner questionnaires, the second study10 included force plate analysis evaluations at day 0 and day 90. Neither the veterinary examination nor owner scores showed significant differences over time in this study. The force plate analysis study did not show a difference between dogs fed the control and the test diets at the start or end of the study; however, when looking at improvements over time, the study did find that 82% of dogs fed the test diet had a significant improvement in peak vertical force compared with only 38% of dogs fed the control diet.10 Neither of these studies showed differences in body weight or body condition score between groups, helping to control for weight loss as a variable.
The third study11 evaluated EPA and DHA supplementation at levels greater than those used in the first two studies. The three test diets in this study provided 0.8% DM (2.2 g/1000 kcal; diet A), 2.0% DM (5.3 g/1000 kcal; diet B), and 2.9% DM (7.5 g/1000 kcal; diet C) of combined EPA and DHA. The total omega 6:3 ratios in these test diets were 0.79:1, 0.63:1, and 0.46:1, respectively. Results of this study found no differences in orthopedic examination scores throughout the study between dogs receiving diets A and B. Orthopedic examination scores showed improvements in lameness and weight bearing, but no difference in range of motion, reluctance to hold up contralateral limb, or pain on palpation in dogs fed diet C compared with dogs fed diet A, suggesting that the inclusion of additional EPA and DHA may provide some benefit. Additional studies with objective force plate analysis data may provide further insight into the most effective dosing strategy for dogs with osteoarthritis.
In cats, one study evaluated 40 patients with degenerative joint disease fed a control diet providing 0.03 g/1000 kcal of combined EPA and DHA or a test formula providing 2.97 g/1000 kcal of combined EPA and DHA.12 There were no differences between diet groups for changes in orthopedic pain scores over the 70-day study period. However, the study did demonstrate an increase in activity via objective activity monitoring (accelerometry) in the test group and a concurrent decrease in activity in the control group. This test diet was also supplemented with green-lipped mussel extract and glucosamine and chrondroitin sulfate, which may have contributed to the results seen.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate serve as precursors for glycosaminoglycans and other components of articular cartilage.13 Results of in vitro studies also suggest that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate suppress proteolytic enzymes and inflammatory cytokines.14 Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have not been independently evaluated as components in commercial pet foods, and the levels provided in commercial pet food are generally much lower than levels shown to have clinical benefit when given in supplemental form.15 When given in supplemental form, dogs treated with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate showed significant improvements in scores for pain, weight bearing, and severity of lameness by day 70 of treatment; however, lameness and joint mobility scores were not significantly improved from pretreatment. Additionally, this trial had a positive control (carprofen) but not a placebo, and objective measures (such as force plate analysis) were not attempted.15


The use of supplemental antioxidants has not been extensively evaluated as an independent variable in clinical studies of veterinary patients with osteoarthritis. Boosted levels of antioxidants are commonly incorporated into therapeutic pet foods to help manage the excessive production of free radicals that can be associated with clinical disease, including arthritis.13 One small study evaluating 18 dogs with clinical osteoarthritis looked at the use of a proprietary antioxidant supplement over 14 weeks and reported improvements in lameness evaluations with supplementation.16 Detailed results of this study are limited, but they provide some evidence to suggest that antioxidants may have an independent positive effect.

Other Nutrients and Areas of Future Research

Many nutritional supplements have previously been reviewed and are beyond the scope of this article.13 One supplement that has been used in commercial therapeutic pet foods, green-lipped mussel, is credited with having antiinflammatory components.17 Dogs with clinical osteoarthritis that received green-lipped mussel included in their diet at 0.3% DM were shown to have improvements in subjective joint pain and swelling scores.17 Changes in joint crepitus and range of joint movement were not significantly different between the test and control groups, and objective measures (such as force plate analysis) were not attempted.
Recent clinical studies have provided a better understanding of nutritional management of osteoarthritis. Many nutritional approaches have been aimed at controlling body weight and inflammation. Other nutritional areas that have been shown to affect immune function, such as the use of probiotics, may build upon the benefits currently recognized.18 Future research evaluating pets with naturally occurring disease, using validated owner questionnaires and objective measurements, is needed.

Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays

Keeping your furry family members safe during the holidays can be a difficult task. There are the ornaments, plants, presents, lights — oh, and who could forget the Christmas tree (if do you decide to put one up this year)? Let’s take a look at some simple steps that will allow your pets to join in the holiday fun this year, while avoiding any trips to the animal emergency room.
Christmas Tree Tips:
1. Place your Christmas tree in a corner, blocked off from your pet’s wanting eyes. If this doesn’t keep your dog or cat from attempting to jump onto the tree, you can place aluminum foil, a plastic drink bottle filled with knick knacks, or anything else that creates noise on the tree’s bottom limbs to warn you of an impending tree disaster.
2. Tinsel can add a nice sparkling touch to the tree, but make sure you hang it up out of your pet’s reach. Ingesting the tinsel can potentially block their intestines, which is generally only remedied through surgical means.
3. Do not put lights on the tree’s lower branches. Not only can your pet get tangled up in the lights, they are a burning hazard. Additionally, your dog or cat may inadvertently get shocked by biting through the wire.
4. Ornaments need to be kept out of reach, too. In addition to being a choking andintestinal blockage hazard, shards from broken ornaments may injure paws, mouths, or other parts of your pet’s body.
5. For those buying a live Christmas trees this year, keep the area free and clear of pine needles. While they may not seem dangerous, the needles can puncture your pet’s intestines if ingested.
Other Great Holiday Item Tips:
1. Did you know holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs or cats? If you normally use these plants to decorate your home, they should be kept in an area your pet cannot reach.
2. Edible tree decorations — whether they be ornaments, or cranberry or popcorn strings — are like time bombs waiting to happen. These goodies are just too enticing and your pet will surely tug at them, knocking down your wonderfully decorated spruce.
3. Burning candles should be placed on high shelves or mantels, out of your pet’s way — there’s no telling where a wagging tail may end up. Homes with fireplaces should use screens to avoid accidental burns.
4. To prevent any accidental electrocutions, any exposed indoor or outdoor wires should be taped to the wall or the sides of the house.
5. When gift wrapping, be sure to keep your pet away. Wrapping paper, string, plastic, or cloth could cause intestinal blockages. Scissors are another hazard, and they should be kept off floors or low tables.
Article found on PetMD website.

Cat Wound Treatment

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Steps for Treating a Wound

Cats are just as susceptible to everyday minor injuries as any other animal. Many cuts (lacerations), bruises (contusions), and scrapes (abrasions) are not life threatening and will heal with little treatment. Other wounds can be severe enough to require sutures and moreintense emergency care.

What to Watch For

Fresh wounds will usually show some or all of the following:

  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Missing hair
  • Cut, scraped or torn skin
  • Limping
  • Tenderness or pain

If a wound is not seen when it is fresh, it can become infected. In addition to swelling and tenderness, you may observe the following:

  • Discharge (pus) from the wound
  • Abscesses (i.e., an accumulation of pus under the skin) and the resulting hole in the skin when the abscess break open and drain
  • Signs of a fever (e.g., lethargy and ears that feel hot to the touch)

Primary Cause

Wounds can come from bumping or hitting hard or sharp objects, avoiding cars, attacks from animals, and other dangers.

Immediate Care

What you can do at home is ultimately up to your cat. Sometimes the only thing you can do is wrap your cat in a towel or put him in a carrier and take him straight to your veterinarian. There are, however, a few things you can do if your cat will let you, especially if it may be a while before you can get to your veterinarian.

  1. If there is bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound. The wound should be covered with sterile gauze or a clean cloth, and then pressure applied. It may take 5 to 10 minutes for bleeding to stop. Once it does, tape the gauze in place; removing it may remove the clot and bleeding will restart.
  2. Check for other wounds.
  3. If there is no bleeding and the cut (laceration) or scrape (abrasion) appears minor, try cleaning the wound. Use an antiseptic solution or plain water and gauze or a cloth (not cotton) to gently clean around the wound, and a syringe or similar device to flush the solution over the surface of the wound. Antiseptic solutions are made by diluting concentrated solutions bought at the store that contain either povidone iodine or chlorhexidine diacetate as the active ingredient. Do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on the wounds, as these will actually damage the tissue. Povidone should be diluted to the color of weak tea; chlorhexidine should be diluted to pale blue.
  4. If the laceration is long or deep, or if it is a puncture wound, you can clean around the edges as already described, but do not flush the wound itself. Let the veterinarian do that.
  5. Once you have done all that you can, take your cat to your veterinarian.

Veterinary Care

Your veterinarian will carefully examine your cat and evaluate all wounds that are found. Your cat will also be evaluated for indications of other problems. The cat’s hair will need to be shaved off for proper evaluation. Some wounds may require X-rays. Sedation may also be necessary to accomplish the examination.
The basic goals of treatment are to prevent infection and speed healing. Different types of wounds require different methods of accomplishing these goals. Most of the time your cat will require sedation or anesthesia to treat the wounds safely and without causing more pain.

  • Small scrapes and cuts often require nothing more than a thorough cleaning and maybe a little skin glue to hold the edges of the cut together.
  • Long and/or deep cuts require careful cleaning to be sure there is no debris in the wound and careful examination to determine the extent of the damage. If the wound is less than 12 hours old and not heavily contaminated, it will probably be sutured closed.
  • Puncture wounds, especially from animal bites, often have extensive damage under the skin that is not visible on initial exam. After removing any possible foreign materials, these wounds have to be thoroughly probed and then carefully cleaned with large volumes of antiseptic solution. Sometimes these wounds must be opened surgically to treat damage deep in the tissues.
  • Meanwhile, puncture wounds and/or wounds that are over 12 hours old, contaminated or showing signs infection, abscessed, or missing large amounts of skin are usually not sutured. Instead they are covered with bandages until such time as the wound is healed or the wound is healthy enough that sutures will actually help the wound rather than trap infection inside.
  • Large or deep wounds, contaminated wounds, or multiple puncture wounds often require the placement of a Penrose drain, which is soft rubber tubing that allows excess, contaminated tissue fluid to drain out, and keeps a small opening available for flushing antiseptic solution through the wound.
  • Your veterinarian will give your cat medication for infection and possibly for pain, which you will need to continue giving at home.
  • Most cats are released within 24 hours of being admitted.

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Living and Management

The most important thing you can do once your cat is home is to provide good nursing care. Fortunately this is usually for only 1 to 2 weeks. Good nursing care includes:

  • Keeping your cat from licking, chewing or scratching at the wounds, sutures, bandages, or drains. This may require the use of an Elizabethan collar.
  • Keeping bandages clean and dry and changing the the bandages as directed by your veterinarian. This may be as often as 2 or 3 times a day initially. You may need to take your cat back to the vet for the changes, especially if he is not cooperative. If the bandages get wet, or you notice an odor, chafing, or an increase in drainage (or the drainage doesn’t subside), take your cat to the vet for evaluation.
  • Placing a thin film of an antibiotic ointment around the edges of the wound once or twice a day, but only if the cat can’t lick it off.
  • Making sure your cat gets all the medication that has been prescribed. If you are having trouble administering it, contact your veterinarian.

Unless the wounds are severe or complications develop, here is a typical schedule of events after the veterinary visit:

  • Penrose drains are removed 3 to 5 days after being placed.
  • Sutures are removed 10 to 14 days after being placed.
  • Antibiotics are generally given for 7 to 10 days.
  • Pain medication, if used, is usually given for 5 to 7 days.
  • Bandages may be left on for as little as 24 hours or up to several weeks, depending on the nature of the wound. Bandage changes are at least once a day to start; longer intervals between changes may be possible later in the healing process.

If a wound, especially a puncture wound, was not seen, and if your cat did not take antibiotics, an abscess can form, resulting in symptoms described at the beginning of this article. Abscesses take about 10 to 14 days to develop, and often are not noticed until they rupture. An abscess will require another trip to your veterinarian.


Since cats are most likely to be injured when roaming outside unattended, the best way to prevent injury is to either keep the cat inside or only let him out in a protected, confined area.

Winter Hazards and your Cat

  • Cats are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of antifreeze, but if eaten, this toxin can quickly cause kidney failure.
  • Outdoor cats depend on people for their warmth and survival during the winter months; special steps need to be taken to keep these cats safe.
  • Holidays are a time for celebration but can pose multiple risks to cats. Lilies, chocolate, alcohol, ribbons, tinsel, and other common holiday items can all be dangerous to our feline companions.

What You Need to Know

Cats that spend time outdoors are exposed to various environmental and physical dangers. In the winter, cats are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia (low body temperature), just like humans. Cats should not be left outside for long periods of time in the winter and should always have the option of coming inside. It’s important to be aware of these risks, so you can keep your cat safe and healthy.

Colder Temperatures

Once temperatures start to dip below the freezing point, remember that any outdoor water will freeze. Cats need a constant supply of fresh, unfrozen water. For outdoor cats that only have access to outdoor water, heated water bowls can be used to keep water from freezing. If an electrical source is not available, water should be kept in a covered, enclosed space to prevent it from freezing quickly. Dog igloos filled with straw work well for outdoor cats, giving them a warm place to eat, drink, and keep dry from the winter elements. Heated pet mats are also helpful and will help a cat retain its body temperature, which is especially important for old or sick cats. It is important to only use heated products that are approved for pets.
Cats that spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter months use more calories in order to stay warm. Giving your cat a higher-quality, protein-rich food will help him or her stay warm and healthy. If your cat has any medical problems, consult your veterinarian before making any diet changes.
Outdoor cats may seek warmth under car hoods and can be injured or killed by the car’s fan belt. Before getting into your car, knock loudly on the hood to ensure that a cat is not hiding beneath.
Even cats that are used to being outside can suffer hypothermia and frostbite. If severe winter storm warnings or extreme cold weather alerts recommending that humans stay indoors are issued in your area, it is a good idea to bring your cat indoors, too. If your cat cannot be brought indoors, a garage or mud room can provide enough shelter in some cases.


Also known as ethylene glycol, antifreeze is probably one of the most common and dangerous winter toxins. Antifreeze is highly toxic, and cats are sometimes attracted to its sweet smell and taste. Once a cat drinks antifreeze, the toxin is rapidly absorbed, and signs such as vomiting, loss of coordination, and depression can appear within 1 hour. The kidneys are most severely affected by antifreeze, and even if signs start to improve with treatment, they may have already started to shut down. Acute kidney failure can occur within 12 to 24 hours after ingestion of antifreeze, so it is important to take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect he or she has drunk even a small amount of antifreeze.

Salt and Chemical Ice Melts

Cats that walk on sidewalks or pathways that have been de-iced can have chapped, dry, painful paws. Also, because cats tend to lick their paws, they can be exposed to toxic chemicals found in some ice melts. Pet-safe ice melt products can be purchased at most home improvement and pet stores. However, not everyone in the neighborhood may use these products, so it is important to wash your cat’s feet with a warm cloth after he or she comes in from being outside.

Holiday Hazards

The holidays pose many risks to cats. Chocolate, alcohol, onions, and coffee are some of the popular party supplies that can cause health problems in your cat. A common holiday plant is the lily, found in many holiday arrangements. Lilies are poisonous to cats. If a cat eats any part of a lily, initial signs of poisoning could include lethargy (tiredness) and a lack of appetite, but kidney failure can occur within 36 to 72 hours. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your cat has eaten any part of a lily plant.
Most cats love tinsel and ribbon, which, if eaten, can damage the intestines, requiring surgery. Keep these items out of reach of your cat.
Cover up electrical cords to prevent them from dangling and being mistaken for cat toys. If chewed, these cords could electrocute your cat.
Original article

Winter Hazards and Your Dog

What you Need to Know

As the temperatures outside start to get lower and you prepare for colder weather, it is important to also prepare your dog for the winter. Whether your dog lives indoors or outdoors, there are dangers in colder conditions. Your dog’s health, food, and environment all need to be taken into consideration when “Old Man Winter” approaches.

Indoor Winter Hazards

During the winter, people and their pets tend to spend more time indoors, so it is important to keep the home environment safe for your dog. The following are some common issues to be aware of:

  • Many types of houseplants can be poisonous to dogs. If eaten, these plants can cause problems such as vomiting and diarrhea, as well as other reactions that can be severe or even fatal. It is important to keep all dangerous plants out of your dog’s reach.
  • Burning candles, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and space heaters create the potential for burns and smoke inhalation. The flickers and warmth of a fire can be an attraction for dogs; therefore, dogs should not be left alone in a room with open flames or hot electric elements. When these items are in use, monitor your dog at all times to keep him or her from getting burned or possibly starting a house fire.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning can be a threat to dogs as well as people. Furnaces, gas water heaters, and gas/kerosene space heatersshould always be evaluated for any leakage. Because dogs tend to be in the house for longer periods of time during the winter, they can be exposed to carbon monoxide leaks for longer, which may cause serious health issues or death. Checking smoke detectors (and purchasing smoke detectors that also detect increases in carbon monoxide) are good ways to help protect your pets and family.

Outdoor Winter Hazards

Being outdoors in the winter can be a lot of fun, but it is important to keep in mind that dogs are susceptible to frostbite, hypothermia (low body temperature), and other cold-weather hazards. Dogs that live outdoors in the winter need special attention to protect them from the wind, rain, and cold. Hypothermia can affect normal body functioning and produce injury or, eventually, death. Fresh, unfrozen water must be available at all times. If your dog has a dog house or igloo, make sure the interior is insulated. Safe heated mats, along with a good layer of straw, are an option that can help keep your dog warm and comfortable.
Dogs that live outside should be able to come inside when they want to. Old or sick dogs should be kept indoors when possible and monitored closely for signs of illness. Even a dog that is used to being outside can suffer hypothermia and frostbite. If severe winter storm warnings or extreme cold weather alerts recommending that humans stay indoors are issued in your area, it is a good idea to bring your dog indoors, too. If your dog cannot be brought indoors, a garage or mud room can provide enough shelter in some cases.
Chemicals like ice melts and salts, antifreeze, and windshield wiper fluids can all be toxic and cause serious complications if dogs eat or drink them. Ice melts and salts can stick to the bottom of dogs’ paws, so it is best to wash your dog’s feet after he or she has been outdoors. Methanol and ethylene glycol, the toxic ingredients in windshield wiper fluid and antifreeze, can cause permanent kidney damage and even death. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur if dogs are left in cars with the motor running or in a garage with a running car.
Going for walks in the winter can be invigorating, but it is best to keep dogs away from frozen water. Dogs can fall through thin ice into freezing water and may suffer hypothermia or drown.

Holiday Season Hazards

We all look forward to the winter holiday season each year, so it is particularly tragic when a family pet is harmed during this time. Paying special attention to safety as you celebrate is very important.

  • Christmas trees can be very attractive to dogs. Dogs may eat the needles (even from artificial trees) or drink the water at the base of the tree, which can be toxic (especially if preservatives are in it).
  • Electrical wires can be a serious hazard. Dogs that chew on these wires can sustain severe burns to the mouth, injury to the brain and lungs, and death from electrocution. It is best to keep wires out of reach or taped down securely. Also, lights may become hot and are best used only on upper branches of trees.
  • Ornaments are beautiful for people to look at, but dogs may think they’re toys. Fragile, breakable or edible ornaments may be knocked over, and wire hooks can get caught in your dog’s hair, skin, or—if eaten—stomach and intestines. An alternative to wire hooks is to use loops of yarn, ribbon, or lightweight twine. Hang the ornaments out of reach of your dog.
  • Tinsel can block the intestines if swallowed, requiring emergency surgery. Tinsel also has sharp edges that can cause cuts in the mouth. Angel hair, which is made of spun glass, is also irritating if touched.
  • Gifts should be checked for small, breakable parts that can be easily swallowed. As with tinsel, string and ribbon can cause intestinal injury or blockage. Monitoring your dog around these items is highly recommended.
  • Human holiday foods, like chocolate, coffee, macadamia nuts, yeast dough, and alcohol, can all be hazardous to dogs. For example, theobromine, an ingredient in chocolate, can cause seizures and death if eaten by dogs. Caffeine (in coffee and chocolate) also causes seizures, along with diarrhea, abnormal heart rate/rhythm and death.

We all want our pets to enjoy the winter and holidays with us. By taking a few precautions and preventive measures, dogs can be protected from many common winter hazards.
More Cold-Weather Tips
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has more cold-weather tips at its website: Additional information about toxic houseplants, antifreeze, and other winter toxins is available at the Animal Poison Control Center:
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