Friends, family, lights, jingle bells, baked cookies, and gifts: the list of reasons to smile as Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years’ approach goes on and on. As you fill up on leftover turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie, it’s a good time to start prepping your home for the holidays while keeping some safety tips in mind to help your pet stay safe.

5 Hidden Dangers to Keep Your Pet Safe This Holiday Season

The last thing you want to do is scramble to the veterinary emergency room with your pet on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. To avoid any accidents and protect your pet, pay attention to these dangers that pet parents often overlook.

1. Skip the Cutesy Costumes and Supervise Your Pet

Is your pet Santa’s #1 helper? Does he need the elf ears and hat to prove it? He likely does not need the costume to show off how adorable he is! Those antlers with the elastic band or pointy elf shoes with the jingle bells can pose a choking hazard for your pet.

Cats and dogs can get tangled in the straps used to affix these costumes to your pet. They can also choke on the bells or sequins. And glitter can scratch your pet’s eyes.

Want that adorable picture? We suggest you choose costumes with fewer ties and accessories. Only dress your pet up for the minimum amount of time to snap your pictures and don’t leave your pet unattended while wearing the costume.

2. Many Holiday Foods Are Not Pet-Friendly

Your pet knows you’re a great chef. You don’t need to share your leftovers with him to prove it. In fact, many Christmas and Hanukkah dishes can be dangerous and poisonous for your pet.

Many recipes call for grapes, raisins, chocolate, or garlic. You may already know these are also dangerous for dogs. But did you know that macadamia nuts, xylitol, onions, and alcohol can make your dog and cat very sick as well?

What ingredients are alright to treat your dog within moderation? Some of our favorites include:

  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Eggs

Just remember that too much disruption if your pet’s diet can upset his stomach and cause diarrhea or vomiting.

3. Gift Wrap, Ribbon, and Decorations

Gift wrap, ribbon, and decorations make your home glow. Unfortunately, they also pose a risk for curious and mischievous pets. Which decorative elements should you keep out of reach of your kitty, puppy, or other pet?

Ornament hangers: Both plastic and metal hangers are sharp and can cause a rupture if swallowed. They can also pinch, cut, or scrape your pet’s mouth, eyes, or paws.

Ribbons: Ribbons and bows present a hazard if swallowed. If you suspect your pet has swallowed ribbon or string, it requires a trip to us or the pet ER.

Gift-wrap: Pets are drawn to crinkle and sparkle of wrapping paper. And some pets even indulge in nibbling on it and ruining the surprise of what’s beneath. Swallowing wrapping paper can make your pet ill.

4. Open Doors

As guests arrive and leave, pets can sneak out the door without being noticed. To avoid letting your pet go on the lam, keep doors closed and caution guests to be careful as possible when entering and leaving.

Is your pet’s microchip up-to-date? If not, now’s a great time to get him chipped in cases he sneaks out. If he is microchipped, be sure your contact information is current.

5. Candles and Cords

Getting all those lights lit can be quite a challenge. You likely have extension cords running all over the house. And those Hankunka candles offer warmth as you celebrate the festivities.

If this is the case, keep those cords away from pets. They’re a tripping hazard and can be fatal if your pet bites one. A playful pet can also damage a cord, creating a fire hazard.

As for candles, we do see burnt noses this time of year. Try out battery-powered candles to keep your pet safe.

6. Flowers and Plants

Many pet parents know that poinsettia is mildly poisonous for pets. Holly, mistletoe, and your Christmas tree are toxic, as well. How can you still bask in the beauty of these plants? Opt for artificial or keep them out of reach of your pet.

7. Pet Stress and Fireworks

Finally, your pet’s physical safety is important. So is his psychological health and wellbeing. Keep in mind pets experience stress and anxiety this time of year. The worst culprit of anxiety is New Year’s fireworks.

Prepare for fireworks and commotion by giving your pet his anxiety prescription before the fireworks start or guests arrive.

Don’t Let Pet Dangers Put a Damper on Your Holiday

Our pets fill the holidays with a little extra joy and love. Keep the merriment in the holiday by keeping your pet safe this year. We hope this list can assist with your holiday setup and pet safety checklist! Should you find yourself in a pet emergency, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at (540) 955-2171.


Image credit: Pexels

You’ve probably heard of kennel cough, but how much do you really know about this highly contagious illness? Many dogs suffer from Bordetella bronchiseptica, or kennel cough, at some point during their lives, and this common upper respiratory disease can develop into pneumonia, which can lead to hospitalization and lifelong complications.

And while most people associate this disease with dogs, cats, rabbits, and people can suffer from bordetella.

While we don’t want to scare you, we do want you to understand the danger of Bordetella and help protect your dog from this serious disease.

What Exactly is Kennel Cough?

So, why does your boarder or doggie daycare require the Bordetella vaccine? Bordetella or kennel cough, is an upper respiratory infection caused by bacteria. Unlike a regular cold or cough, bordetellosis is persistent and lasts much longer. Kennel cough affects the lungs, throat, and airways.

While all bordetellosis is a form of kennel cough, not all kennel cough is bordetellosis. What do we mean by that? Bordetellosis is an infection caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. But this bacteria causes kennel cough so often, the two are usually synonymous.

Like other bacterial infections, kennel cough is spread by an infected dog to an uninfected dog. An infected dog can spread kennel cough weeks to months after symptoms disappear through saliva.

How Does Kennel Cough Affect Dogs?

Kennel cough is not fun for dogs. It can make it hard to breathe and make them feel lethargic. When a dog doesn’t get treatment within the first few days of experiencing symptoms, kennel cough develops into canine flu which causes fever, runny nose, lack of energy, lack of appetite, and labored breathing.

The most common symptoms of kennel cough are:

  • Hacking or dry cough
  • Coughing all night
  • Runny eyes or nose
  • Gagging or retching

What Dogs Are Most at Risk?

Puppies are the most vulnerable victims of kennel cough. Because they’re still developing their immune systems, they tend to get sick more easily. They also struggle more once infected with Bordetella.

Senior and pregnant dogs can also suffer severe side effects from kennel cough.

Kennel cough can quickly turn from ‘just a cough’ into pneumonia in these groups.

How Can You Prevent and Protect Your Dog from Bordetella?

Bordetella spreads quickly and easily between dogs. It’s most frequently spread from dog to dog at dog parks, daycares, groomers, and boarding facilities that don’t enforce a bordetella immunization policy.

The best way to prevent your dog from contracting Bordetella is to vaccinate your dog. This vaccine works like the human flu shot. The vaccine contains a small amount of the live bacteria, so your dog’s body can build a resistance to it, so when exposed to it in full-force, her immune system will kick into action and beat that bacteria.

If your dog frequents the dog park or goes on play dates, and you notice another dog coughing, keep your dog away from the coughing dog. It also helps if your dog doesn’t share communal toys or a communal water bowl.

Protect Your Dog Against Bordetella

Kennel cough can really put a damper on your dog’s energy, enjoyment, and health. Don’t let it. If your dog is due for her Bordetella vaccine, make an appointment. Let’s work together to protect your pup!


Image credit: Pexels


Mistletoe, turkey, gifts, family, and smiles: there is so much to look forward to as the holidays approach. Don’t let any last-minute safety surprises put a damper on your cheer this
Thanksgiving, Haunaka, Christmas, or New Year’s by keeping your pet safe. What safety tips should you add to your planning to ensure a joyous and safe holiday season?

Here are our top safety tips for pet parents during the hectic holiday season:

1. Reduce Your Pets’ Stress

We’re sure your list is long, long, long this holiday season. And we wouldn’t dare ask you to add any more items to your checklist if we didn’t think it was important.

As the fervor of the season sets in, help reduce your pet’s stress by preparing your home or travel plans to accommodate your pet.

How Can You Do Reduce Your Pet’s Holiday Anxiety?

If friends and family are celebrating at your house

  • Familiarize guests with your pet and her needs (dietary, petting comfort, noise, handling)
  • Ask guests to keep the entry doors closed as they enter or leave
  • Prepare treats you approve
  • Create a sanctuary in a quiet room away from the noise
  • If your pet gets extremely nervous, consider boarder her

If you’re traveling for the holidays

  • Book boarding or your pet sitter before their schedules fill up
  • Familiarize your pet with her sitter and vice versa
  • Prepare pet sitter instructions a week or two before
  • Keep vaccinations up to date for boarding
  • If you’re going on a road trip, prepare your pet’s medicine and map out vets on the way

2. Compost and Thanksgiving ‘Leftovers’

Dogs and cats can’t resist a free meal. Especially when Thanksgiving leftovers are on the menu. If you compost your organics, be sure your compost bin is secure, so your dog, cat, or rodents don’t make a feast out of your post-feast waste.

Composting organics can make your pet pretty sick, but the mushrooms and fungi that make compost their home can be extremely dangerous and poison your pup or cat.

Signs of Poisoning from Dangerous Mushrooms Include

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Hyperthermia
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation

3. Here’s a Bright Idea: Light up Your Walks for Better Visibility

As the days become shorter and shorter, walking your dog in the dark comes with its own dangers. It’s more difficult to see at dawn, dusk, and once it’s dark out.

Bring a flashlight along for your walks. This can help light your path and help you avoid skunks or other critters.

Drivers also experience decreased visibility as the days get shorter. Be sure they can see you and your dog by wearing bright colors. You may also want to pick up a reflective collar, leash, or vest for your pup. Use caution as you cross the road and when in doubt, assume a driver can’t see you.

4. Don’t Let Your Pet Get Wrapped Up in the Holiday Ribbon and Papers

Decking the halls, trimming the tree, and wrapping gifts can be so much fun. As you unpack the decorations, keep a keen eye on your pet. Cats tend to love Christmas bows, ribbons, and wrapping paper (they also love the boxes, but they’re harmless). Dogs can also confuse ribbon, decorations, and bows for toys.

Having your beautiful decor snagged, chewed, and tangled isn’t fun, but when a pet swallows these, it can be deadly. Ribbon can cause a digestive obstruction and swallowing ornament hangers can cause serious injury.

As you unpack and decorate, keep your pets’ safety in mind and clean up any loose ribbons. Be sure any large heavy decor won’t tip over if your pet bumps into it. And secure your Christmas tree and watch cats carefully when they’re around it.

5. Sweets Can Be Deadly for Pets

Your pet is sweet enough. No need for any extra-sugary treats this year. Excess sugar is unhealthy for pets, and chocolate and xylitol can be fatal.

Between Halloween and New Years, chocolate and xylitol poisonings become a real concern. From stockings to Halloween bounty, candy is everywhere. This leads to increased access for pets and increased cases of poisoning.
You’ve probably heard that chocolate is bad for dogs. But what harm can it really do?

Chocolate can cause:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Increased urination
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Death
  • Organ damage

Xylitol is a sugar substitute found in a wide range of foods like pudding, gummies, and gum. It’s also frequently used in dental products. If your pet consumes something with xylitol, it can send their body into shock.

Xylitol poisoning can result in:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Inability to walk
  • Disorientation
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Seizure
  • Tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Depression

Protect your pets by storing candy out of reach of curious paws. If you have visitors for the holidays, remind them to keep their toiletries tucked away and that you’d prefer they pass on providing your pet with unhealthy and potentially dangerous handouts.

Have a Happy, Healthy Holiday Season with Your Pets!

Prevention is the key to a happy holiday, and we hope these tips will help keep your pets safe and give you some peace of mind during the hectic holiday season.

If you have any questions or you suspect your pets got into something that could make them sick, give us a call immediately.

In the meantime, happy holidays from all of us at Battletown Animal Clinic! We hope you celebrate this beautiful time of year with those you care about and that your four-legged friend makes your holidays extra special.



Photo credit: Pixabay

The word “xylitol” may sound like a rare substance, but this sugar substitute can be found in almost every American household. Because xylitol is so common, we feel the need to tell you all about it to keep your pets safe. So, here it is: This sweet substance can do serious harm to unknowing pets.

What Is Xylitol?

Xylitol is frequently used as a sugar replacement. Xylitol can be found in nature in berries, corn, plums, mushrooms, trees, and other plants. But it is very often chemically created to add to common products like gummies and toothpaste.

Xylitol has been used for decades in sugarless gum and in dental products. Why? Because it fights dental plaque. But over the past decade or so, it appears on more and more ingredient lists because it’s low in calories and has a low glycemic index. Some of the most common products that contain xylitol include:

  • Candy
  • Gum
  • Pudding
  • Mouthwash
  • Chewable vitamins
  • Laxatives
  • Digestive medicine
  • Allergy medicine
  • Pain relievers

It can be listed on ingredients as “sugar alcohol.” It can also be called birch sugar, E967, meso-xylitol, sucre de bouleau, pentol, xylo-pentane.

How Does Xylitol Affect Dogs?

While xylitol is perfectly safe for you and your family, it’s extremely toxic for dogs. It’s also dangerous for cats, although cats are more suspicious and picky when it comes to what they’ll eat.

Even in the smallest amounts, xylitol can cause an extreme drop in your dog’s blood sugar, severe seizures, liver failure, and death. These symptoms can occur with ten minutes of your dog eating this substance.

When we eat xylitol, our bodies respond by producing insulin. But when dogs eat xylitol, their bodies rapidly absorb it into their bloodstreams causing an intense and immediate release of insulin. This, in turn, makes their blood sugar drop with dangerous results.

Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning

  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness and muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Xylitol poisoning can result in permanent damage to your dog’s vital organs. From liver failure to pancreatic issues, this sweet substance is deadly.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Pets?

Keep any products that may have xylitol out of reach of your pets. This means Halloween candy and the upcoming Thanksgiving treats. Ask guests to refrain from handouts for your dog or cat since these can be potentially dangerous. And if you’re expecting guests this holiday season, request that they keep their toiletry bags zipped and stored where your dog or cat won’t find them.

What Should You Do if Your Dog or Cat Eats Something with Xylitol?

Call us immediately. Time is of the essence if your pet eats a food or other substance containing xylitol.

Xylitol Poisoning is Deadly: Don’t Let This Sweetener Take Your Dog

Please be cautious this time of year when it comes to what your dog or cat eats. Avoid handouts or leaving any products that may contain xylitol within paws’ reach. When it comes to xylitol poisoning, prevention will save your dog’s life.



Photo Credit: Pixabay

Fall is synonymous with hunting season for many dog owners here in Minnesota. And if you’re hunting for a reminder or some new ideas to make your trip a success and as safe as possible we have some tips for you.

How Can You Keep Your Dog Safe This Hunting Season?

Keep your hunting buddy safe as you plan your upcoming trip by looking over our hunting safety tips.

1. Protect Your Pooch from Inside Out

From ticks to rabies, you don’t want your dog exposed to disease and illness. Part of protecting your four-legged hunting partner includes making sure his vaccinations are up-to-date. 

We recommend making an appointment or calling to see if your dog is due for

  • Leptospirosis and rabies vaccines
  • Flea and tick prevention

2. Check Your Dog’s Paws Before and After You Go Out

Your dog’s paws are vulnerable to cuts, scrapes and other types of damage as he runs through the woods. If you notice any cuts or scrapes before your hunt, it’s best to let him have the day off. Bring him by if he gets any cuts that you notice afterward. Also, remember to check for burs and ticks.

You can pick a product like Musher’s Secret to help protect those precious paws before heading out.

Some dogs take to dog hunting and hiking boots while others won’t stand for it.

3. Watch Out for Hypothermia

As the temperatures drop, it’s essential to keep an eye out for signs of hypothermia in your dog (especially if he gets wet). Hypothermia, if left untreated, can become deadly or result in coma and permanent health damage.

Some obvious signs of canine hypothermia include:

  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Stints of shivering and not shivering
  • Dilated pupils
  • Trouble walking or breathing

Hypothermia needs to be treated immediately. If you think your dog is experiencing hypothermia, wrap him in a blanket and dry him off to the best of your ability. If you have warm water, let him drink it. Put him in the truck with the heater on and drive home or call and come in.

*While the weather seems cool, you should still watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

4. Gear Up Your Dog

Your dog should wear a collar that can break free if he gets stuck on a branch or falls into a ravine or down a hillside. Your dog should always wear a properly fitted safety vest with reflectors in hunter’s orange.

5. Even the Sharpest Hunting Dogs Get Lost

Keep your updated information, including your phone number, address, and an alternate number on your dog’s ID tag. Update your dog’s microchip information before your trip as well. This is extremely important if your dog’s collar breaks free.

Happy Hunting with Your Dog!

We wish you a happy and successful hunting season! If you need to microchip your dog or you need to refill your dog’s flea and tick prescription, make an appointment before hunting season opens.

Photo Credit: Pixabay