The holidays can be a joyful time but they also can bring a wide range of hazards for our beloved pets. Here are a few things to keep in mind during this holiday season.
Chocolate can be very toxic for dogs and cats. Generally the darker the chocolate the more dangerous it is. Symptoms can range from vomiting to severe seizures. If your dog eats chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately and try to keep the packaging handy as this will help in deciding whether treatment is required. If treated early most cases will make a full recovery.
Raisins and grapes are also very toxic for your pets. They can cause irreversible kidney damage, and in some cases this can happen when only a small amount has been eaten. Prompt treatment is required after they have been eaten but symptoms may not appear until after a few days.
Lilies can cause irreversible kidney damage in cats as well. All parts of the flower are poisonous, including the pollen. These flowers are best avoided if you have cats.
Holly and mistletoe can pose threats as well. When ingested, holly can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset as well as cardiovascular problems.
Poinsettias are typical Christmas plants that are commonly seen as poisonous but rarely are. These plants generally cause only irritation to the mouth and stomach, which can result in drooling, vomiting and diarrhea.
Refrain from feeding your pets Christmas leftovers. The increased fat in these foods often can cause gastrointestinal upset, leading to a more serious condition called pancreatitis, which could result in a stay in the hospital -- or death in severe cases.
However tempting it may be, avoid feeding your pets bones; they may become lodged in a pet's throat, esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract.
Ribbons, yarn and tinsel may look pretty, but these may prove enticing to dogs and cats who frequently will play with these and possibly eat them. They tend to get caught in the intestinal tract, causing obstructions and perforation, which often can require emergency surgery. Make sure to keep these holiday decorations hidden away and never leave them around after opening presents. Over the years, foreign bodies of all types have been retrieved from many mischievous dogs and cats.
Snow globes are often filled with antifreeze and can cause serious illness if ingested. Should a snow globe break and you are unsure if your pet has ingested any of its contents, take your pet to the vet immediately. Kidney failure and central nervous system damage can occur within a short time, which can result in death if untreated.
Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This also will prevent the tree water, which may contain fertilizers and bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal upset, from spilling.
If you think your pet may have ingested something toxic, call The Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680
The holidays are a wonderful time for us to enjoy with our families and our loved pets. With care and common sense, we can keep these joyous times safe for all.
Have a safe and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas, everybody!
Felicia Burdick-Aysenne, a veterinarian at Bienville Animal Medical Center in Ocean Springs, encourages questions for this column. Write to South Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association, 20005 Pineville Road, Long Beach, MS 39560, and include a self-addressed stamped envelope.