New Year's Eve a Bad Night for Pet ER Visits

PHOTO: Here are some tips for celebrating New Years Eve safely with your pet.PlayGetty Images
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Between the champagne, the countdown and the fireworks, New Year's Eve can be a lot of fun, except for many of those with four legs, fur and a tail.

New Year's Eve is an especially busy time for emergency visits to the veterinarian, said Dr. Jerry Klein, supervising veterinarian at the Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center.

"Most evenings have a certain kind of ebb and flow, but New Year’s Eve and New Year's Day is pretty constant," Klein said.

Party guests leave doors open, handbags unattended and cocktails in easy reach, he said. Klein said he always sees more furry patients during the holidays when other vet offices are closed. But because New Year's festivities keep people out so late, there's even more opportunity for something to go wrong and for frantic owners to recognize it.

"As people start to drink, they start to have losses in judgment," he said.

Dr. Jules Benson, the chief veterinary medical officer of the pet health insurance company Petplan, said claims for "foreign body ingestion" are up 52 percent on New Year's Eve compared to any other day of the year.

"Some of things we saw were bones, rope, wood, metal shavings, sewing pins," he said. "One English Setter ate a sock, a quarter stick of butter and the ring pull from a soda can."

And because most veterinary offices are closed, sending sick pets and their owners to emergency clinics, treatment costs 46 percent more money, Benson said.

Purses are a danger because people often keep prescription and over-the-counter drugs in them, Klein said. Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is especially toxic to cats, and Aleve and Ibuprofen are especially toxic to dogs, he said. And many sugar-free chewing gums contain xylitol, which can cause dogs to have a sudden drop in blood sugar and even cause liver damage. Small dogs are especially at risk, he said.

Benson said claims for pancreatitis, which occurs when dogs eat foods that are too rich for them, are up 7 percent on New Year's Eve. And poisonings are up 8.5 percent more than any other day of the year.

Chocolate, garlic, onions and grapes are also party food staples, but they're toxic to our furry friends. They can cause vomiting, anemia, kidney failure and other dangerous consequences, Dr. Klein said.

And although it may be polite to bring flowers with a bottle of wine to New Year's celebrations, seasonal lilies are deadly to cats. They're known to cause kidney failure, and all parts of the plant are "extremely toxic," Klein said.

"I can't tell you how many times the following day, two days later, the cat presents with vomiting," Klein said, adding that lilies are much more toxic than poinsettias.