Holiday Health Hazards
The holiday season is a joyous time for our families and friends. However, the holidays bring with it some dangers for our pets not seen during other parts of the year. Our pets become curious about all the decorations, smells, and tastes of the holiday season. Listed below are some of the most common hazards presented to our pets during the holidays.
Tinsel String and Things
Elastic strings, tinsel, bows, ornaments, electric cords and gifts are enticing to chew on but can become problems that make our pets sick. Cats especially love the garland, ribbons, strings and tinsel of this season. Curiosity does sometimes “kill the cat” when they ingest these items and they cause intestinal obstructions or perforations requiring emergency surgery. Dogs and cats sometimes find that chewing on the wiring or electrical cords associated with our decorations can be a dangerous electrocution hazard. If you see an interest from your pet with these electrical aspects of the holiday season take precautions to limit their access to these hazards. Any novel source of water creates curiosity including the water to keep our Christmas trees hydrated. Make sure that this source of water is off limits because of the sap, bacteria and chemical additives that are frequently in the water.
Plants of the Season
While Poinsettias are perhaps the most notorious “toxic plant” of the season, they are not especially toxic but ingestion should be avoided as they may cause stomach or intestinal upset leading to vomiting or diarrhea. Mistletoe is very toxic to our pets and ingestion of this plant can lead to vomiting, severe diarrhea, difficulty breathing, shock and death. The best recommendation would be to eliminate this plant from your holiday collection.
Tasty Things to Eat
While onions and garlic may be good for us they can cause anemia and vomiting in our pets. Rising dough that is ingested can continue expand after being eaten. I personally had a dog eat two loaves of bread in the first stages of rising and his belly looked like a basket ball when we first saw him. Fortunately we were able to induce vomiting and he was fine. Chocolate is another “no no”. Dogs especially have a hankering for chocolate but it can be quite toxic. Some types of chocolate are more toxic than others. If your pet consumes chocolate call your veterinarian or emergency center to determine if the ingested type and amount is dangerous to your pet. Overindulgence in turkey, ham, stuffing etc. can cause problems with vomiting, diarrhea and possibly pancreatitis which can be very serious indeed. With the gathering of friends and family our canine and feline companions can be getting these holiday treats from multiple sources. So, be aware of those things in your environment that pose a hazard to our pets during the holidays so that everyone can have a safe and enjoyable time together.
Dr. Hafner graduated from Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1978 and has been caring for pets at the Animal Hospital of Dunedin since 1981.