Ask the Veterinary Services Expert – Megan Herman
Christmas is an exciting time of year for everyone, but we must take extra caution in regards to our pets around holiday season. From the decorations to the food, there are many items around that can be toxic or dangerous to our pets.
During the holiday season we must take extra caution in regards to food items that pets may consume. Chocolate is the main toxicity we see around Christmas time. Many pets have been known to un-wrap chocolate from under the tree and eat it (sometimes including the wrapping paper!). The degree of toxicity varies depending on the type of chocolate; the higher the cocoa level (dark chocolate) the greater the degree of toxicity. Clinical signs of chocolate toxicity can include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures and abnormal heart rhythm in severe cases. Other toxic food items include alcohol, coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered beans), onions, garlic, fatty foods, salt, yeast dough and many others. Do not give your pets bones (chicken, turkey, ham, etc…) as they can result in obstruction or pancreatitis. If your pet consumes any of these or you have questions or concerns, call your veterinary for further advice.
Holiday plants are another concern. The main plants around at Christmas time that can result in toxicity include lilies, poinsettias, mistletoe and holly. Lilies (many different types) are mainly toxic to cats and can result in kidney failure only a few hours after ingestion. If you have cats in the house, do not have lilies in the house! Poinsettias, mistletoe and holly most commonly cause vomiting and diarrhea but can be more severe if a large amount is ingested.
Also remember to watch your pet around the Christmas tree. Cats love to play with ribbons and tinsel which can cause an intestinal obstruction (especially in cats). We have also seen animals eat ornaments which can irritate the intestinal tract if they are glass or even cause an obstruction. Also be sure to cover any electrical cords in order to prevent your animal from chewing on them which can result in electrocution.
If you have pets in the house take some extra time to make it safe for the animals so that you have no issues this Christmas season. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. Usually the problem is easier to correct shortly after ingestion compared to once the clinical signs have begun. Call us at 403-527-4888.