Holiday Pet Disasters to Avoid

With the holiday season quickly approaching we at McLean Animal Hospital wanted to give you an idea of the different types of dangers pets can encounter during the holiday season. Everyone knows about chocolate toxicity but there are a number of others to look out for!

  1. Unknown contents in wrapped presents: If you have gifts with unknown contents under the tree, be cautioned! Dogs will be able to smell if there is any food within the packages and could be at risk of opening your gifts early for a tasty treat. Any packages with unknown content should be safely hidden away where pets cannot gain access.
  1. Medication from guests: with many visitors entering the home, there is an increased chance of pets being able to steal some medications. Not that we like to think of our pets as drug addicts, but you just never know what they will try to swallow. This is especially true of flavoured medications. Please ensure all of your guests have any medications safely stored away.
  1. Snow globes: many snow globes contain ethylene glycol (antifreeze). It has a sweet taste that animals will be attracted to. If consumed, it can cause fatal toxicity.
  1. Salt: Salt toxicity can be fatal because it throws off the bodies electrolytes. Often many homemade holiday ornaments made of dough are very high in salt content. If you have these hanging on your tree beware!
  1. Chocolate: Chocolate contains the methylxanthine theobromine. It is similar to caffeine and acts as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and smooth muscle relaxant. At high enough doses it can be toxic and result in severe clinical signs. Levels of these are highest in dark chocolate.
  1. Holiday food: If your pet consumes a large amount of food or a high amount of fatty food they can be at risk of developing pancreatitis or swallowing bones and having an obstruction or perforation in their gastrointestinal tract. Also, food such as stuffing can contain onions and garlic which can be toxic to your pet in high enough quantities.
  1. Holiday lights and electrical cords: Be mindful of your pet chewing on any cords to minimize their risk of becoming electrocuted or burned. Unplug all cords when you are not there to directly monitor your pet. Let’s leave the roasting to chestnuts on an open fire.
  1. Ornaments: If the ornament is small enough to swallow, ensure it is kept away from your pet so that they do not swallow the object which could result in a blockage either in their stomach or intestine which needs to be surgically removed.
  1. Holiday plants: poinsettias, holly and mistletoe: Poinsettias can cause irritation to the mouth and esophagus as well as vomiting and nausea. Holly and mistletoe can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drooling and abdominal pain. In addition, mistletoe can cause a drop in blood pressure and hallucinations which can result in abnormal behaviour. If enough of the plant is consumed it can lead to seizures and even death! Mistletoe isn’t sounding so romantic anymore is it?

We want your pets to remain healthy throughout this holiday season, so please keep your eyes out for any of the above potential dangers. If you have any questions or concerns or your pet has consumed any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us so we can help.

Written by Mclean Animal Hosptial