It’s the most wonderful time of the year! With happy greetings and your dog always eating anything that’s near! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
The holidays are fast approaching and that means a few things. The weather is threatening snow. Your electric bill may double from the lights strewn all over your house. And there is a whole plethora of new and exciting treats for your furry friend to devour. Well, that’s how they see it anyway. But while holiday goodies may look beautiful, they can also cause serious problems for your pets, from minor stomach aches to life threatening illness. Follow this guide to navigating your own merry minefield and you and your fuzzy companion can celebrate the new year happy and healthy.
The Christmas Tree – The splendor. The majesty. The presents. Christmas isn’t complete without the centerpiece of any holiday celebration. But did you know that a Christmas tree may be toxic to your pet? The needles and the water reservoir are the most toxic parts and can cause anything from diarrhea and vomiting to more serious kidney and liver damage. In the most serious cases, it may even cause seizures. In addition, needles that fall on the ground can get stuck in your pet’s nose and throat. To be safe, keep your four-legged buddies away from your tree. A good trick is to sprinkle lemon pepper around the tree skirt. Cats hate the smell and will usually keep a safe distance.
Mistletoe – It’s good for a late night, eggnog tasting kiss and its also good for some gastrointestinal upset. Eating mistletoe may cause your pet to vomit, have diarrhea, urinate excessively and can even dangerously slow their heart rate. The solution? Hang it up high, well out of the reach of any stray paws (but I bet you were going to do that anyway).
Poinsettias – The seminal holiday bloom. Their big red blossoms scream merriment and cheer. But they can also cause gastrointestinal distress to your cat. In some cases it can also cause conjunctivitis, or irritation to the eye, as well. So this year consider a plastic poinsettia if your feline friend has a propensity to gnaw on your yuletide décor.
Holly – Like its Christmas brethren, eating Holly will usually cause vomiting and diarrhea.
The Fruit Cake – The dreaded, reviled, universally loathed holiday gift. Its heavy, its dense, its colorful and most likely, you will never eat it. So why not give it to the dog? Better than it going to waste, right? Not so fast! More than likely your fruit cake has raisins in it which, when consumed by dogs, can cause acute renal failure, a serious and life threatening condition where the kidneys shut down, causing toxic material to build up in the blood. So instead just re-gift it. I mean, who doesn’t like fruit cake?
Chocolate – No celebration would be complete without it. I bet your stocking will be stuffed with it come Christmas morning. And you probably already know what a danger it can be to your pet. Unfortunately, it is just as tasty to them as it is to us. If ingested by your pet it can cause tremors, a high body temperature and cardiac arrhythmias, or irregular heart beats which can often be fatal. And it’s important to remember that not all chocolate is created equal. Milk chocolate is the least toxic, with dark chocolate more so, and unsweetened baker’s chocolate being the most dangerous of the bunch. But don’t leave it to chance. If your pet gets into your holiday stash be sure to try and figure out how much they ate and call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
The Presents – Yes, even the presents under the tree represent a risk. Well, not actually the presents, but the ribbon you tied them in. If ingested by your cat, ribbon has a tendency to cause the intestines to kink on themselves, causing obstruction and compromising blood flow to the gut. What does this all mean? Costly surgery, long recovery, potential removal of a large portion of the intestines, possible death and a really bad holiday.
Remember the information in this guide and you and your family, furry and furless, will have a happy holiday and a wonderful new year. And of course, HAPPY HOLIDAYS from your friends and neighbors at the Animal Medical Center of Cascades!