Written by Staff Veterinarian
Here are some tips to keep your pet safe and happy over the holiday season.
One of the best things about the holidays is all the food! However please be aware that certain human foods can be toxic or even fatal to our pets. Pets can also become ill from eating fatty foods (like meat drippings, turkey skin, large amounts of cheese or butter) or getting into kitchen garbage. Particularly dangerous foods include, but are not limited to: macadamia nuts, chocolate, and sugar free candy and gum and puddings.
If you think your pet has ingested any of these foods, call a veterinarian or emergency clinic! Prompt treatment is the best way to prevent or manage toxicity.
Decorated fir trees pose special hazards to our pets. Both dogs and cats may chew strings of electric lights, tinsel, or strung popcorn. Dogs especially may chew or eat ornaments or parcels under the tree, which can cause oral injury or gastrointestinal obstruction. Beware of climbing cats that may topple trees and injure themselves or other pets and children. It is also best to keep pets from drinking the water the tree stands in, since this water is often contaminated with fertilizer sprayed on the trees during the growing period. Pine needles can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
Ingesting holly berries and/or leaves can cause vomiting and diarrhea. The spiny leaves can also cause damage to your pet’s mouth.
Ingesting mistletoe can cause severe toxicity and can even lead to the death of your pet. Different varieties of mistletoe have different levels of toxicity. Symptoms of toxicity include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, collapse, loss of balance, and seizures.
Lilies, particularly stargazer, Easter, and Asiatic varieties, are deadly to cats. Biting petals or leaves, ingesting pollen, or even drinking water out of a vase with cut lilies has potential to cause irreversible kidney failure and death. Immediate veterinary care is imperative if your cat has encountered lilies.
Poinsettias are not as toxic as frequently thought, though they can cause irritation and ulceration to your pet’s mouth if chewed, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting if eaten. If your pet ingests these plants it is best to call a veterinarian. Prompt treatment is important to minimize clinical symptoms of toxicity and unnecessary death.
Avoid metallic wrapping paper or bows as these can contain low levels of heavy metals, which are toxic to our pets if they chew or ingest them while “helping out” opening the presents.
Electric Lights and Candles
Hide all those electric cables as inquisitive pets may try and chew on them, which can result in oral burns, fluid in the lungs, or even fatal electrocution. Ensure candles are placed out of the way of climbing cats or large dogs, as they can potentially be knocked over and cause injury or fires.
We sometimes forget that what is fun for us can cause significant stress for pets, particularly cats. If you are throwing a party or expecting lots of visitors, make sure your pet has a safe quiet room where s/he can easily escape and relax.