Holiday Hazards For Pets
Here are some tips for keeping your pets healthy and out of danger during the holiday season.
Holiday Foods to keep away from your Pet
- Alcoholic beverages
- Chocolate (baker’s, semi-sweet, milk chocolate)
- Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans)
- Moldy or spoiled foods
- Onions, onion powder
- Fatty foods
- Yeast dough
- Macadamia nuts
- Lilies that may be found in holiday flower arrangements are very toxic to your cat. Many types of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats.
- Mistletoe has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems. However, mistletoe ingestion usually only causes gastrointestinal upset.
- Holly ingestion could cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy.
- Poinsettias are over-rated in toxicity. If ingested, poinsettias can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, and may cause mild vomiting or nausea.
HAZARDS AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE
- Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers, which, if ingested, can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water can be breeding grounds for bacteria, which can also lead to vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, if ingested.
- Electric cords- Avoid animal exposure to electric cords-especially puppies who like to chew on everything. If they were chewed, they could electrocute your pet. Cover up or hide electric cords, never let your pet chew on them.
- Ribbons or tinsel Keep tinsel off of the lower part of the Christmas tree where playful cats and dogs may be tempted to play with and eat these shiny objects. Tinsel and ribbon can get caught in the intestines and stomach or even under the tongue and cause life threatening obstructions.
- Batteries contain corrosives. If ingested they can cause ulceration to the mouth, tongue, and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Glass ornaments can cut the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract if ingested.
- Potpourris are popular household fragrances commonly used during the holiday season. Pets are often exposed to liquid potpourri by direct ingestion from simmer pots or spills, or by rubbing against leaky bottles or simmer pots containing the potpourri, or from spilling the containers upon themselves. Oral exposures result following grooming. Exposure of pets to some types of liquid potpourris can result in severe oral, dermal, and ocular damage. Dry potpourri generally doesn’t cause those issues, but there may be problems due to foreign body and (possibly) toxic plant ingestion.
Keep all prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs out of the reach of your pets, preferably in closed cabinets. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer, drugs, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills are common examples of human medication that could be potentially lethal even in small dosages.
Ibuprofen tablet (200mg) can cause stomach ulcers in a 10-pound dog. Remind holiday guests to store their medications safely as well.
Acetaminophen (tylenol) can be very dangerous to pets as they do not metabolize this the same way humans do.
During the holidays, many veterinary clinics have limited office hours. In some cases, pet owners try to medicate their animals without their veterinarian’s advice. Never give your animal any medications unless under the directions of veterinarian. Many medications that are used safely in humans can be deadly when used inappropriately.
OTHER WINTER HAZARDS
- Antifreeze has a pleasant taste. Unfortunately, very small amounts can be lethal. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat; less than four teaspoons can be dangerous to a 10-pound dog. Thoroughly clean up any spills, store antifreeze in tightly closed containers and store in secured cabinets. Automotive products such as gasoline, oil and antifreeze should be stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. Propylene glycol is a safer form of antifreeze. Low Tox™ brand antifreeze contains propylene glycol and is recommended to use in pet households.
- If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-4-ANI-HELP) right away!
- Ice melting products can be irritating to skin and mouth. Depending on the actual ingredient of the ice melt and the quantity, signs of ingestion would include excessive drooling, depression, vomiting or even electrolyte imbalances.
- Rat and mouse killers are used more commonly during colder weather. When using rat and mouse bait, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your companion animals.
If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 1-888-4-ANI-HELP right away.