Holiday Hazards

by Carrie Dixon, DVM

winterPersonally, I love the holiday season. I love the decorations, the food, the shopping, and I can even tolerate the cold weather. But some of the very things that I love can be harmful to my pets. Here is a list of things that may be hazardous to your pets this holiday season.

Chocolate: A mild amount of chocolate can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea. Large amounts can lead to toxicity which may cause an increased heart rate, hyperactivity, and even seizures. Dark chocolate and Baker’s chocolate are the most dangerous, followed by milk chocolate, and then white chocolate.

Onion & garlic: Foods containing either of these fresh or dried spices may be hazardous. Problems include anemia, weakness, vomiting, or diarrhea. This plant family is especially dangerous to cats.

Leftovers: I know it’s tempting to share your holiday feast with your pets, but eating table food can induce pancreatitis which causes vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. If bones are ingested, they can cause gastrointestinal obstructions which may require surgery.

Candy: If candy or gum contains a sweetener called xylitol and is ingested by pets, it can lead to a serious drop in blood sugar. Low blood sugar may cause weakness or seizures.

Alcohol: Alcohol ingestion can lead to depression, respiratory distress, coma, and even death in pets.

Tylenol & Advil: Medications for our holiday headaches should never be given to pets unless directed by a veterinarian. Overdoses in pets can lead to liver or kidney failure.

Plants: Popular holiday plants such as Poinsettias, Mistletoe, and lilies all pose dangers to pets if ingested. Symptoms can range from mild vomiting or diarrhea, to lethargy and organ failure. Lilies in particular cause kidney failure if ingested by cats.

Christmas trees: Some people use fertilizers in their Christmas tree water which may upset a pet’s stomach if ingested. If your pet plays with the lights on a tree, it can lead to electrical shock. Ornaments that a pet plays with could become a foreign body if swallowed. Tinsel or garland could also be ingested and cause an obstruction.

Please remember to keep your pets safe.