When your home is filled with guests for the winter holidays, it's a very busy time. The safety of your pets can easily get put on a back burner, if not overlooked completely.
Holiday Dangers for Pets
Here are some tips to put up on the refrigerator door to remind you how to avoid extra trips to the vet, or worse.
1. Problem foods
• Chocolate is toxic for dogs. The darker and richer the chocolate, the higher the risk. Dogs can experience vomiting, diarrhea, urination, heart arrhythmias, and seizures.
• Fat trimmings, cooked and uncooked, can cause pancreatitis.
• Bones, especially chicken and turkey bones, can be choked on or splinter and cause internal lacerations.
• Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and macadamia nuts are poisonous, causing symptoms from upset stomachs to seizures, vomiting, and/or loss of muscle control.
• Alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, body temperature. Desserts made with alcohol or dough containing yeast are often the culprits.
• Caffeine in coffee, tea, dietary pills, etc. can have a strong negative effect on your pet's heart, stomach, intestines, and nervous system.
• Sugarless gums and candies with xylitol (a sweetener) are toxic to dogs. They can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and liver failure.
• Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in dogs.
• Onions and garlic, raw and cooked, cause damage to red blood cells in both dogs and cats. This is a very toxic event and immediate veterinary care is recommended.
Keep your pets on their regular diets during the holidays. Make sure that all snack foods are kept on tables that are hard to reach. Instruct your guests that no one is to give your pets any treats or table food. Pick up all food spills promptly.
2. Problem: tinsel, ornaments and garlands
Tinsel and fragile tree ornaments and garlands are very attractive to pets, especially cats and puppies. Once tinsel is eaten it can be fatal because it twists and bunches inside your pet's intestines. Fragile tree ornaments can break, forming sharp edges that can tear up your pet's mouth, throat, and intestines.
Place fragile ornaments high on your tree where pets can't reach them. Don't use tinsel.
3. Problem: Holiday lighting and candles
Not only can pets burn themselves, they can also knock over candles, creating a fire hazard. A pet that's teething or just likes to chew can electrocute himself by chewing on an electric cord.
Place all candles in hard-to-reach spots. Check the cords on your holiday lights for signs of fraying and always use a grounded, three-prong extension cord.
4. Problem: Gift wrap ribbon
Ingested ribbons and bows can cause choking hazards and, if swallowed, can twist through the intestines, leading to expensive vet surgery, and even death.
Discard all ribbons and bows as soon as the gifts are opened.
5. Problem: Poisonous plants
Poinsettia plants are mildly toxic. Lilies, holly, or mistletoe are very dangerous for cats. One or two leaves or petals can cause sudden kidney failure. Holly berries are also poisonous, causing stomach upset and even heart arrhythmias.
Limit the poisonous plants in your house and keep those you have in hard-to-reach areas.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Ashley Priddy, BVMS
For Immediate Help:
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
1-888-4-ANI-HELP (No fee)
Pet Poison Helpline 24/7
Animal Poison Control Center: 855-764-7661
(There is a $49 per incident fee, payable by credit card. The fee covers the initial consultation plus any necessary follow-up calls.)