The holidays encompass so many wonderful things; time spent with friends and family, good food and drink, gift giving, and so much more. However, we often forget that they can bring with them a myriad of things that can potentially be harmful our pets. To keep them safe and to help ensure that they and the rest of your family have an enjoyable holiday season we at Raritan Animal Hospital have compiled a brief list of some holiday dangers to watch out for.
FOOD & SWEETS
The holidays are a time to indulge in our favorite foods. Although they may insistently beg for you to share those foods, it is best not to share table food or sweets with your pet. Greasy, fatty foods can cause your pet stomach upset and may be accompanied by symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases table food can cause inflammation of the pancreas known as pancreatitis.
Sweets such as baked goods and candy can also be harmful to your pets. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which in toxic levels can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and hyperactivity. Levels of theobromine are dependent on the type of chocolate so it is best to keep your pet away from all foods that may contain chocolate. Candy and gum can also be harmful to your pet, particularly if they contain the sweetener, xylitol. Xylitol when ingested can cause a drop in blood sugar, resulting in symptoms such as depression, loss of coordination, and seizures.
More and more pet treats are being made to look like the cookies and sweets we like to indulge in. If you want to spoil your pet this holiday, do so in moderation with items that have been made specifically with your pet in mind.
PLANTS & FLOWERS
Plants and flowers are often a key part of decorating for the holidays, but some of them despite their beauty, may bring more harm than good to your house this season. Items such as mistletoe and holly berries can cause gastrointestinal upset and lethargy. In some cases cardiovascular symptoms may be present as well. Poinsettias are a symbol of the holidays but they too can elicit symptoms of stomach upset such as vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. Finally, lilies can be very toxic to cats causing irritation to the mouth and can induce kidney failure. If any of these items must be a part of your holiday décor, be sure to keep them out of the reach of your pets. Another option is to utilize artificial versions of your favorite holiday plants and flowers.
TREES & DECORATIONS
While a good portion of population utilize artificial trees for the holidays those pet owners who purchase real Christmas trees should take care not to let their pets drink water from the tree stand or chew on its branches. Christmas trees and the water from their stands may contain fertilizers that can cause your pet stomach upset. Also the water in tree stands is stagnant and can be a breeding ground for bacteria that can also upset your pet’s stomach.
Ribbon and tinsel used to adorn trees or add a special touch to gift packages can also be a danger to curious pets. Cats in particular love to play and chew on these items which can become lodged in the intestines causing symptoms such as vomiting and abdominal pain. In severe cases they can cause an intestinal blockage and require surgical extraction.
Be watchful of your pets during this holiday season and keep them safe from these potential dangers. Doing so will ensure that they and your family have a safe and enjoyable holiday this season.