5 Hazards of the Holiday Season for Your Pets

5 Hazards of the Holiday Season for Your Pets

Written by Dr. Lisa Booth

Happy holidays to you all! This is the time of much joy and celebration, but it is also the time when there are increased hazards for your pet. In my 13 years of Veterinary medicine, the following 5 things are what I view as the top hazards for your pet during this holiday season. I will describe for you what makes them hazardous for your pet and how to make sure your pet does well if exposed.

1) Chocolate
Chocolate comes in many forms and the Bakers chocolate is the most toxic to our pets. Chocolate contains Theobromine that causes restlessness, fast heat rate, panting, and may lead to seizures. In the case of Baker’s chocolate, as little as 1oz in a 10 pounds dog can be toxic. The milk chocolate that is found in many of our candies has much less Theobromine in it and a 20 pound dogs can ingest as much as 1 ½ pounds of this before showing signs of toxicity. It is important to remember that chocolate can also cause vomiting if your pet should eat enough of it, but may not cause toxicity. Many pets that are showing signs of toxicity will need to be in hospital for 24 to 48 hours on fluids and medications.

2) Tinsel
Many pets like the glittery look of tinsel on your tree and around your house. Tinsel that is ingested can lead to obstruction in the intestines. Signs of obstruction include vomiting, decreased appetite, and pain in abdomen. If this should occur your pet will need surgery.

3) Holiday Lights
Not only is the tinsel attractive to our pets, but also lights. The lights glitter and shine and it incites curiosity in our pets. It is dangerous for our pets to bite into these lights or get tangled in them. We worry about pets getting tangled and choking themselves and also getting burns in their mouth from biting the electrical cords. If your pet should get burns in their mouth from biting, watch them closely and if refusing to eat due to pain they may need to be in hospital.

4) Holly/Mistletoe
The sap of these plants contains saponins that lead to toxicity in our pets. Pets that ingest these plants can have vomiting and diarrhea that can become very severe. There are times that these pets will need to be in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours.

5) Poinsettia
There is a big misconception about the toxicity of this plant. Poinsettias are mildly toxic and may cause irritation in your pet’s mouth. We will see pets have increased salivation and be pawing at their mouth. You can give your pet bread and water to sooth the mouth.

The above is not an all-encompassing list of toxicities during the holidays. This is the time of year to watch your pets, and if you have any questions about what your pet gets into, give your veterinarian a call. Happy Howlidays!!