Winter Holiday Hazards For Pets
Here are some tips, from Dr. Greenwell, for keeping your pets out of danger during the holiday season.
AVOID Holiday Food Items That Could Cause Problems For 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
- Lastly--your trash can, keep pets away from your disposed items, especially above
- Lilies that may be found in holiday flower arrangements could be deadly to your cat. Many types of lily, such as Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer, and the Casa Blanca, can cause kidney failure in cats.
- Poinsettias are generally over-rated in toxicity. If ingested, poinsettias can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, and may cause mild vomiting or nausea.
- 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.
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. 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 can get caught up in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction.
- 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 mouth, skin, and eye 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. One regular-strength ibuprofen tablet (200mg) can cause stomach ulcers in a 10-pound dog. Remind holiday guests to store their medications safely as well.
During the holidays, we may have limited office hours. In some cases, pet owners try to medicate their animals without our advice. Never give your animal any medications unless under the directions of Dr. Greenwell, or his staff. Many medications that are used safely in humans can be deadly when used inappropriately. Less than one regular strength acetaminophen tablet (325mg) can be dangerous to a cat weighing 7lbs.
One critical tip---Many clients will "throw" treats or food on the floor for their pets to eat. This teaches pets to "act like an alligator" and immediately devour dropped items. We have had clients drop pills and their pets immediately swallow them, thinking they are treats. Unfortunately, we have had pets eat some really toxic and deadly medicines this way. We have to immediately make them vomit and hospitalize them. It may be wise to place treats in their bowls or hand feed them.
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 us immediately!
- Liquid 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.
- 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. Better yet, use bait stations that pets cannot get into. Try to use poisons that have antidotes. Some poisons have no antidotes making intoxication more deadly to your furry friends. Ask us for more information on making this decision
ALWAYS Be Prepared !!!!
Your animal may become poisoned in spite of your best efforts to prevent it. You should keep our telephone number handy(we can provide you with a magnet), our local emergency clinic(214-547-9900), and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-4 ANI-HELP) in a convenient location. If you suspect that your pet has ingested something poisonous, seek medical attention immediately.
The poison control center's web address: