On an average evening, our emergency service at BEVS regularly sees pets suffering the effects of partaking in the holiday spirit a bit too joyfully. To keep your holidays both festive and safe for your pets, keep in mind a few of the hidden holiday hazards for animals.
Chocolate – While we at BEVS see pets suffering from chocolate toxicity throughout the year, the holiday season certainly leads to an increase of pets that have gotten into chocolate or treats containing chocolate. Even as small an amount as one ounce of chocolate can be potentially toxic to animals, resulting in symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea in cases with mild exposure, to cardiac issues and seizures in cases with higher levels of ingestion. If you find your pet has gotten into any holiday treats, your best bet is to contact your veterinarian, who can advise you if inducing emesis (vomiting) is necessary and if hospitalization with supportive care is recommended.
Meat and Bones –Pet owners often want to include their pets in festive holiday meals. Keep in mind certain meats can be too fatty and rich for pet’s sensitive stomachs. This may result in vomiting and diarrhea in mild cases, and the very serious condition of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) in others. Pancreatitis often requires hospitalization and supportive care. Meat bones are tempting to give your dogs as a fun chew toy, but use caution here. Cooked poultry bones can splinter when chewed. The ingested fragments of bone can irritate and potentially perforate a pet’s intestinal tract, causing a condition called peritonitis, which can be lethal. Blockages of the intestinal tract may also occur from ingestion of bones, and may require surgery to remove the foreign material. Larger, uncooked beef bones are preferable, as they are less likely to splinter and be ingested. However, it is still advisable to monitor your pets while they enjoy this treat.
Holiday Plants- Certain holiday plants and flowers can be very hazardous to pets, causing symptoms that vary from mild (vomiting and diarrhea) to very serious (kidney failure). Some of the plants to keep out of your pets reach include mistletoe, poinsettia, holly, amaryllis, lilies, among others. The ASPCA website http://www.aspca.org/ has a comprehensive list of potentially poisonous plants.
Christmas Decor- Pets find the bright and colorful holiday decorations simply irresistible. Holiday decorations such as tinsel and ribbon may be very tempting to the feline members of your family. If ingested, these can become stuck in the intestinal tract and require surgical removal. Decorations such as tantalizingly shiny ornaments can injure your dog’s mouth if chewed on, and the sharp pieces can also become lodged and or irritate the stomach and intestines. Christmas trees, while beautiful, may also lead to holiday havoc. A cat shimmying up the tree could knock it over, leading to injury or a pet drinking from the water at the base of the tree may end up with an upset stomach due to the preservatives often found in the water.
Keep these few potential holiday hazards in mind and out of reach for your pets, so both you and your four-legged family members can enjoy a safe holiday season.