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Safe and Happy Holidays for your Dog – Now and Throughout the New Year

The upcoming holidays can pose special health dangers for our four-legged friends. Each year, thousands of pets become seriously injured or ill during the holiday season, while their owners are busy with shopping, baking and entertaining.

Pets can become very ill from a variety of common holiday meal items, including table butter, meat and candy. These foods can result in gastrointestinal upsets and pancreatitis, a painful and sometimes fatal condition. When these conditions occur, pets might exhibit depression, vomiting, abdominal pain or lack of appetite. Eating tinsel, ornaments and garlands, even drinking holiday tree sap water, can lead to serious stomach irritation. In addition, poisoning from xylitol (a sugar-free ingredient found in baking goods, candy, and chewing gum) can cause a severe blood sugar problem leading to weakness, depression, and seizures.

Chocolate is another common cause of holiday accidents for pets. Many types of concentrated chocolate, particularly baking chocolate or dark chocolate, can cause serious health problems depending on the size of the dog.

As the exclusive provider of the AKC Pet Healthcare Plan, we’ve paid many claims related to the holidays. Some of these have included a Bernese Mountain Dog that ate a tree ornament and a German Shepherd Dog that chewed and swallowed a battery-operated toy. Even more serious claims we have paid include $1,768 for an Airedale Terrier who grabbed and swallowed a turkey skewer as it fell from the kitchen counter and $3,738 for a Labrador Retriever who ate a kitchen towel and a potholder during a holiday meal.

During the holidays, prevention is really the key. Place high risk items and holiday foods out of reach. Dogs also like to chew on electrical cords, gift ribbons and strings. Watch for symptoms of restlessness, tremors, seizures, vomiting and diarrhea and seek immediate veterinary treatment for them.

Of course, our pets’ health and well being is a responsibility that goes beyond just the holidays. Recent advances in veterinary diagnostic and treatment procedures have increased the quality of care available to pet owners. Spinal surgery, chemotherapy, CT scans and ultrasound are just some of the advanced techniques used by veterinarians to treat conditions that were often fatal just a few years ago. But a trip to your veterinarian might cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars for a serious condition.

Unexpected accidents and illnesses can occur at any time. A sampling of some treatment costs we have covered include: $5,000 for cancer treatment; $4,686 for pneumonia, $2,782 for a snake bite; $5,800 for ingesting rocks; $3,754 for anemia, $3,722 for being hit by a motorcycle, and $5,000 for a strangulated intestine. This is where a pet healthcare plan can serve as a bridge between costly veterinary treatment and the financial costs to owners.

As the word spreads about affordable pet healthcare insurance, more and more pet owners are enrolling in plans that allow you to realistically budget for the lifelong healthcare needs of your pets. The right pet healthcare plan can alleviate difficult emotional and financial decisions over whether you can afford treatment. Having to deal with unexpected and serious pet healthcare decisions during the holidays can create an added layer of stress — and even larger bills to an already busy and expensive time of year.

The AKC Pet Healthcare Plan offers you the ability to select a coverage level that best meets your needs. Coverage options include choices for unexpected accidents and illnesses, as well as preventive care expenses. For example, our Essential Plan covers unexpected accidents, injuries and illnesses, up to an $11,000 maximum annual benefit. The plan features a $125 per incident deductible, with a 10% co-insurance payment and it reimburses 90% of allowed expenses. Its daily cost is pennies a day and you can choose to pay on a monthly or annual basis.

Don’t let innocent holiday traditions jeopardize the health of your pet. Consider enrolling in a pet healthcare plan for the peace of mind you need both during the holidays and all year round. Evaluate the potential risks of your holiday decorations, plants and meals (see chart below). And, in the hustle and bustle of the season, remember regular feeding and exercise schedules and be certain to give your dog lots of love as you start off the New Year.

Be Aware of These Holiday Dangers
  • Candles and hot wax
  • Candies, chocolate and foil wrappers
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Electrical cords (uncovered or untaped)
  • Ribbon, string and yarn
  • Metal ornament hooks
  • Tree tinsel and confetti
  • Carving and kitchen knives/blades
  • Outdoor fireworks and other loud noises
  • Rich, fatty foods and table scraps
  • Rubber bands
  • Beads and buttons
  • Poinsettias, holly, mistletoe and greens
  • Stagnant tree stand water and chemicals
  • Intricate or fragile ornaments
  • Rock salt and antifreeze
  • Poultry bones and meat drippings
  • Small holiday lights
  • Angelhair (spun glass)
  • Rich food stocks and seasonings
  • Artificial snow and snow flocking
  • Small toys, especially those with small parts or unassembled parts
  • Slippery outdoor ice and snow
  • Fireplace flames and color salts

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