The holiday season is upon us, and many pet owners plan to make their companions part of the festivities. It’s important to remember that some seemingly safe traditions are anything but for our four-legged friends, which is something Patricia Reigstad learned the hard way.
“My mom has always said we treat our pets better than most people treat their kids,” Reigstad said.
And if you spend any time with Reigstad, you'll see there is definitely some truth to that.
“They're everything, especially with the kids grown up and out of the house,” Reigstad said. “They are our babies.”
Out of the two dogs and two cats she seemed to have an extra special bond with 4-year-old cat Pewter, which is what makes what happened on Dec. 5 so difficult to talk about.
“She was just crying as loud as could be and she was just lying there not moving,” Reigstad said of Pewter’s behavior that day.
Patricia's husband noticed a string of Christmas lights near her had been moved around and quickly took Pewter to the hospital.
“The vet said that all indications are that she was electrocuted,” Reigstad said.
A few short hours later Pewter passed away.
“It's absolutely tragic when we see a death from electrocution like that,” Dr. Tristan Daugherty-Leiter of Veterinary Emergency Service said.
Daugherty-Leiter said fortunately cases like Pewter's are rare. But, he admits the holidays can be dangerous for pets. He recommends keeping fatty party foods, especially toxic chocolate and onions, away from pets. Keep plants like poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly away from pets as well. Also, make sure your pet doesn’t drink from underneath the Christmas tree which can cause nausea and vomiting. Make sure ornaments and decorations like tinsel are out of reach.
“We get a lot of ingestion of those things that are unexpected,” Daugherty-Leiter said. “If they are chewing on something new, don't expect them not to swallow it if they have the chance.”
Reigstad has now installed Critter Cords around her home, making it harder for her other animals to get to the electricity. And hopes anyone with pets will take similar precautions before it's too late.