Thanksgiving through Christmas is often the busiest time of year for us seeing sick pets. Dogs and cats can't help but find trouble with all the goodies around. Decorations, baked goods, fancy dinners, family visiting...it all adds up to a potential Vet visit. What are the most common issues we see? Check out this numbered list, then go puppy and cat-proof your home in time for the holidays!
1. The Christmas Tree - this symbol of Christmas is often a huge source of trouble for pets.
- Cats will drink tree water (in the case of live trees). This can make them very sick
- We've removed MANY pine needles from curious dog's stomachs. There's no predicting what a dog may decide is tasty, and if he eats too many pine needles, he may need surgery to remove them!
- Tinsel. Tinsel tinsel tinsel. Cats love tinsel - it's shiny, it moves, it reflects light. Unfortunately, if eaten, it can cause an intestinal blockage that can be fatal!
- Glass ornaments. Yes, dogs will eat and chew these (Dr. Nollet speaks from personal experience here)
- Poinsettias - although mildly toxic, this will cause vomiting, diarrhea and skin irritation if eaten by your cat or dog
- Holly - this will cause severe stomach upset and may require hospitalization to treat
- Lillies - even a bite or two of the wrong lilly can cause acute (sudden) severe kidney failure in cats. Pro-tip: When in doubt, bring the flower in with you to your appointment.
- Mistletoe - this will cause stomach upset, but if enough is eaten, can also cause seizures, coma and death!
3. Delicious Holiday Treats
- Chocolate - most folks know this one, but did you know that even an ounce of dark or baking chocolate can kill a dog? A good rule of thumb is - if the chocolate is out, the dog will find it!
- Nuts - many types of nuts used in baking are toxic to dogs and cats. Keep the nuts out of reach and the dogs out of the kitchen while you're baking!
- Grapes - that tasty stuffing everyone loves so much? Keep an eye out for grapes and raisins. While not toxic to all dogs, some dogs can have a reaction to even a single grape that causes kidney failure. There's no way to predict which dog will react, so it's best to avoid them all together!
- Human medications - okay, so it's not a delicious holiday treat, but if you've got family visiting, they're probably bringing their medications. Make sure everybody keeps their meds (human and animal) well out of reach because even a small dose of the wrong medication could make your pet very sick.
- Turkey skin, butter, bacon and ham - It's delicious, and your dog thinks so too. Unfortunately, rich foods like this can cause a very severe disease called pancreatitis. We see a lot of pancreatitis during the holidays, and it almost always requires hospitalization. Severe pancreatitis can be deadly! To spoil your dog on the holidays, try offering some canned dog food or low-sodium chicken broth in his dog food as a special treat.
Lastly, keep in mind that pets sometimes find company stressful. Make your your cat or dog has a quiet place they can "escape" to if the fun gets to be too much!
Happy holidays from all of us at Bayfield Animal Hospital! We hope your holiday season is uneventful, and we'll see you in the New Year!