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Holiday Hazards

Last Updated: 3-18-2015

Be sure to keep your pet healthy, happy and out of trouble during the season!

There are a number of common potential toxicities and troubles that our pets can get into during this season. Here are a few:


This popular holiday plant is generally over-rated in toxicity. It can cause oral irritation to mouth and stomach. If your dog or cat ingests any part of it, you may see drooling, vomiting, or nausea. Signs are typically mild and self-limiting.


There are several types of mistletoe. Assume that ALL are toxic if ingested. The signs of toxicity can be from mild gastrointestinal signs to severe liver failure and seizures.


holiday-fThese are of special interest to playful cats and kittens who see these materials as toys (or prey) to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing pose no health threats, chewing and swallowing do. The tinsel can become trapped in the intestine or even in the mouth and create what is called a linear foreign body. These need to be treated surgically. For all homes with cats, we recommend no tinsel on the trees and be very careful with ribbon on presents!

CHOCOLATE chocolate-santa
Many people do not realize that chocolate can be a poison. Unsweetened baking chocolate carries a much higher dose of the toxin “theobromine” than does milk chocolate, but even normal milk chocolate can be dangerous; a small dog getting into some holiday candy can wind up in big trouble. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperexcitability, nervousness, vomiting, and diarrhea and death. If your pet eats chocolate, call the office or emergency clinic for recommendations. There are SOME dogs that can eat small amounts of chocolate without any ill effects but the general recommendation is to keep all pets away from any amount.

Holiday foods tend to be more flavorful and calorie laden than regular fare. Not only tempting to us trying to keep the pounds off during the season, they are also tempting to dogs and cats when given the opportunity for a bite! Many animals cannot handle the extra fat or flavors of holiday fare and can become ill. Pancreatitis can often be triggered in a dog after eating a fatty piece of prime rib or roast. This can cause vomiting and be so serious as to require hospitalization. It is best to keep your pets on their regular diet throughout the holiday season.

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