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Keep Your Christmas Treats From Turning into Threats

05 January 2016

US - The holiday season brings family gatherings, food, and festivities. But, pet owners should be aware that with the good times come potential dangers for dogs and cats.

Dr Tina Wismer, a veterinarian at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center who lectures at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana, says that some of the most life-threatening calls that the poison control center receives around the holidays can be categorized under “grandma’s purse.”

“This is when a pet gets into a purse, which can contain anything from medications to sugarless gum. These are the most difficult cases to treat because of the infinite possibilities of what a purse can contain,” explains Dr Wismer.

She recommends that guests’ purses, luggage, and coats be kept behind closed doors and away from pets to avoid this scenario.

Dr Wismer recommends telling guests the rules for your pet. Pancreatitis, a potentially deadly inflammation of the pancreas, can be caused by animals eating fatty treats or other inappropriate foods, and it happens more frequently during the holidays.

Protect your pet by telling guests not to share table scraps with Bowser or Tabby. Even a small scrap can cause problems when each person at the party hands one out.

Drinks rank high on the list of holiday threats to pets. Alcohol poisoning is very serious, especially for a pet. It takes only a small amount of alcohol to make a dog or cat ill.

“Don’t leave the eggnog unattended,” Dr Wismer warns, “because pets like its sweet taste as much as people do. An animal that has ingested alcohol needs to be seen by a veterinarian for fluid therapy and to be monitored for vomiting.”

Is there chocolate under your tree? If so, move it. A curious pet could unwrap the gift and consume the toxic candy inside. According to Dr Wismer, the holiday season brings an increase in the number of daily calls the poison control center receives regarding chocolate intake in animals.

While you are busy decorating for the holidays, Dr Wismer warns about trimming the tree with tinsel or strings of popcorn. These are especially tempting for cats, who naturally want to play with them. If ingested, these decorations could cause a serious obstruction that requires surgery to correct.

The decorative plants common during the holidays also cause problems for pets if ingested. According to Dr Wismer, mistletoe and holly can cause vomiting.

However, one holiday favorite is less worrisome than you may have heard.

“The toxicity of poinsettias is often exaggerated. Poinsettias are not really going to cause serious problems,” Dr Wismer advises, “but if a pet ingested a large amount of poinsettia leaves, that could lead to an upset stomach and possibly vomiting.”

For help in handling any holiday threats to pets, be sure to contact your local veterinarian.

ThePetSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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