The holiday season can be full of joy and love, especially when surrounded by your family and fur babies! However, there are many toxins and potential injuries that are common at this time of year as well. To help ensure you won’t be making any stressful trips to the ER, we have created a list of some of the most frequent injuries and ailments we see as vets.
- Bones can be a tempting treat for our canine friends, but they can also crack teeth, get stuck in throats or tummies, splinter and pierce intestines (ESPECIALLY cooked bones!), and cause stomach upsets. Best avoided.
- High fat foods (like meat, turkey skin, foods with lots of butter, etc) can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and make pets feel extremely poor.
- With tasty smells in the kitchen, pets are often underfoot- we see a lot of spilled hot oil and other types of burns! Best to keep your little ones out of the food prep area all together.
- Artificial sweeteners are often toxic- xylitol (found in sugar free gum) is just one example. These can be potentially lethal to pets.
- Blue cheese has a specific toxin called Roquefortine C toxin which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even seizures in dogs.
- In dogs, macadamia nuts can cause tremors which lead to dangerous overheating and require hospitalization.
Remember, even if you aren’t actively offering these things to your pets, they can be easy to scavenge. Be sure to clear plates quickly and take the trash out frequently to avoid toxic ingestions. Don’t forget to check out what’s under the tree as well- your family and guests may not know what is and isn’t toxic to your pets!
As always, if you notice your pet HAS eaten one of the above listed items, be sure to phone ASPCA Pet Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 or Pet Poison Hotline at (855) 764-7661 right away.
- Christmas trees: pine needles can cause tummy upsets and pierce the mouth, paws, and intestines.
- If eaten, wrapping paper, ribbons, tinsel, ornaments, and other decorations can all cause a life-threatening intestinal blockage. Even toys purchased for pets can be ingested and get stuck- be sure to always supervise your pets with their toys.
- Children’s small toys or toys with small parts can be a choking hazard (Polly Pocket is making a comeback!)
- Silica gel packets- usually non-toxic but can cause an obstruction.
- Batteries (for instance from toys and holiday lights) can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning.
- Candles are easy to topple over when brushed up against (fire risk) and can burn paws and inquiring noses.
- Chewing on wires can cause electrocution. Unplug those lights when you’re not around to minimize this possibility.
- Poinsettias are toxic and can lead to vomiting, excessive drooling, and make it painful to eat.
- Mistletoe is highly toxic to both dogs and cats. It causes vomiting, diarrhea, labored breathing, shock, and can even lead to death.
- Christmas tree water additives (like aspirin) can be toxic. If you have pets, don’t add any to the water!
- Potpourri can contain toxic essential oils and detergents that make pets vomit and can cause blockages.
- Those spiky leaves are a warning- holly is toxic to dogs, cats and humans! It can cause severe vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, and head shaking if eaten.
Please note, this is not an exhaustive list, but includes the most common issues we see. While we hope this will be a merry holiday season, it always helps to have a plan. Do you know what veterinary ER is nearest to you?
We also recommend that you discuss the importance of closing doors and windows with your guests this season. This helps to reduce the chance of pets accidentally escaping. Just to be safe, always be sure that your pets have up to date ID tags and information associated with their microchips so that they can be returned to you if they do manage to go for an adventure.
Here’s to making happy memories this season, not worrying ones. Happy holidays, everyone!
Written by Dr. Racheal Krieger