‘Tis the Season

The busiest days at the vet’s office tend to be the right after a big holiday.  Many of these appointments involve pets who ate something that they probably shouldn’t have.  Some things are fed to pets intentionally, and other things were never meant to be ingested.  Here are some common holiday dangers so you can avoid making an extra visit to your veterinarian this holiday season:

  • Extra treats: Overdoing it can irritate the digestive system, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, or both.  Most cases of simple gastroenteritis are self-limiting, albeit messy.  Your veterinarian can prescribe medications to shorten the duration and severity of symptoms.
  • Fatty foods: These can trigger inflammation in the pancreas causing abdominal pain, digestive upset, anorexia, and lethargy.  Some cases may require hospitalization and intensive care.
  • People foods:

o   Grapes/raisins: Just a few can result in kidney failure in some animals.

o   Onions/garlic: These cause gastrointestinal problems or even damage to the red blood cells.  Cats are more susceptible to toxicity.

o   Chocolate: Methylxanthines contained in chocolate can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, heart arrhythmias, and even death.

o   Macadamia nuts: Ingestion can cause depression, vomiting, and tremors.

o   Xylitol: This artificial sweetener causes the release of insulin, resulting in low blood sugar and liver failure.

  • String: Ribbons and tinsel are tempting toys, especially for cats.  These can become lodged in the digestive tract and block the normal passage of food or cause damage to the intestines.
  • Bones: Bones can get stuck around the jaw or lodged within the mouth or intestines, requiring surgery.  Small sharp bones may cause perforations on the way out.
  • Plants: Many holiday plants can cause digestive upset, and some are downright toxic.  Mistletoe and lilies can be deadly.  Poinsettias may cause oral and gastrointestinal irritation.

During this holiday season be on the lookout for things that may harm your pet.  Accidents do happen, though, so keep your veterinarian’s number close at hand.  Being prepared can ensure that everyone’s season is merry and bright!