The holiday season is already busy enough without adding an expensive trip to the vet! We came across an article by Justine Lee, DVM, DACVECC describing many potential holiday hazards and wanted to share some tips with you!
Holiday ornaments should be given careful consideration. These are usually shiny and tempting and who can blame your pet for mistaking them for toys? If your pet is the inquistive type make sure to be thoughtful about where you place holiday ornaments and consider not allowing any access to the Christmas tree unless it is supervised. Old-fashioned bubble lights may contain poisonous chemicals. Chewing on ornaments can cause lacerations in the mouth, risk of ingesting harmful substances and also risk of foreign body obstruction of the gastro-intestinal tract. Tinsel is one holiday ornament that can prove deadly if ingested because it can result in a severe linear foreign body that can cause serious injury to the intestines or even cause a rupture!
Antifreeze is a chemical used during this time of year that can be found in numerous sources and ingesting just a small amount can be fatal. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk or uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy. While signs may seem to improve after eight to twelve hours, internal damage is actually worsening and crystals develop in the kidneys resulting in acute kidney failure. Immediate treatment is vital if you suspect that your pet may have been exposed to antifreeze.
Pointsettas and other festive holiday plants can pose a serious risk to dogs and cats. Poinsettia, holly berries, mistletoe and rosemary can all be toxic to pets. Recently florists have started to use Japanese Yew to make wreaths and all parts of this plant are very poisonous. Lilies are often used in floral arrangements and just one or two bites from a lily can result in severe acute kidney failure in cats – even the pollen is poisonous! When in doubt don’t keep the bouquets in the house, or put them in an inaccessible spot.
Holiday foods can present many hazards for your pet. Be careful to keep these delicacies away from your pets and don’t let friends or family sneak in treats. Foods containing grapes, raisins and currents can result in kidney failure in dogs. Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, a chemical highly toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion in small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea but large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias. Many sugarless gums and candies contain xylitol, a sweetener which is toxic to dogs. It causes a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and liver failure. Leftover, fatty meat scraps can produce severe inflammation of the pancreas leading to abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Finally, even though most people know not to give alcohol to their pets alcohol poisoning in pets is fairly common because alcohol can be found in surprising places! Rum-soaked fruitcake or unbaked dough that contains yeast result in alcohol poisoning and other problems. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.
If you think your pet has been poisoned contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. For more information regarding services visit the PPH website at www.petpoisonhelpline.com .
We hope everyone, and their furry family members, has a happy and safe holiday season!