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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: health department

photo of poinsettia plantDr. Barbara McLean, Chief of Prevention and Protection, Baltimore County Animal Services, Baltimore County Department of Health

The same foods, decorations and lighting that make the holidays come alive for people can turn deadly when it comes to your pet. Especially vulnerable to the season’s delights are dogs, cats and birds.

Foods that you enjoy this time of year aren’t necessarily appropriate for your pet. Avoid giving your pet scraps from the table—especially bones since they can splinter and cause serious health problems. Other tasty treats that your pet should not eat are onions, grapes, raisins and chocolate. Beware of individually wrapped candies since your pet doesn’t know that the wrapper isn’t for eating, and as a result, it might easily ingest both the candy and the wrapper.

If serving alcoholic beverages, make sure unattended drinks are out of your pet’s reach. Alcohol can cause animals to become weak, ill or even go into a deadly coma. If having a party, your best bet is to ensure that your animal is in a quiet room of his or her own complete with a bed, food, water, toys and wearing his or her identification information.

Other seasonal items that can cause problems for your pet are plants. Amaryllis, hibiscus, holly, lilies, mistletoe, poinsettias and certain types of ivy should be placed in a spot that your pet cannot access. Among other things, if ingested, these items can cause kidney failure, fatal heart problems and just plain old upset stomachs.  

Christmas trees should be anchored securely as climbing cats and dogs with tails can easily knock them over. Hang breakable, glass ornaments, lights and tinsel high on the tree to prevent your pet from ingesting tinsel, which can block the intestines and from getting tangled in a string of lights. Also, avoid using edible tree decorations such as cranberry or popcorn strings since your pet will be tempted to sniff and taste these items.

Be sure to keep your pet safe from the dangers lurking beneath and around your Christmas tree as well. Fallen pine needles should be cleaned up frequently since they can be toxic when eaten by your pet, and always ensure that your tree’s water supply is covered.

And finally, just as you would do for a toddler- kitten or puppy proof your home. Cover electrical outlets and cords. Or, consider using pet proof extension cords or animal anti-chew sprays of which there are several varieties. Prevent accidental electrocutions by taping exposed outdoor or indoor wires to the sides of the house or the wall.

I hope that these helpful tips will keep you and your furry/feathered friends safe and happy this holiday season.


photo of woman cupping her earPaul Efros, M.A., CCC-A
Audiologist, Baltimore County Department of Health

Free Hearing Screenings Offered by the Department of Health

Many of us take our hearing for granted, but hearing loss is one of the most preventable and treatable health issues in our nation. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, approximately 28 million Americans have hearing loss and this number has doubled in the past 30 years.

Many Americans with hearing loss tend to be older adults.  But loss of hearing doesn’t need to be an accepted part of getting older. Help is available!  In observance of Better Hearing and Speech Month, the Baltimore County Department of Health’s Audiology Services will offer free hearings checks at three county locations (by appointment only) during the month of May.

How do you know if you or a loved one is losing their hearing? Some signs include:

·         Frequently asking others to repeat themselves

·         Pain or ringing in the ears

·         Difficulty hearing conversations, and

·         Keeping the TV or radio volume so loud, others ask you to lower it.

Loss of hearing isn’t just inconvenient; it’s detrimental to a happy, healthy life.  Hearing loss is often accompanied by symptoms such as: irritability, fatigue, avoidance or withdrawal from social situations, reduced alertness and increased risk of personal safety, and reduced job performance.

So, do yourself a favor, schedule your free hearing screening today!


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