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Pet safety during the holidays: Don’t let the Grinch steal your pet’s Christmas!

The holidays are coming! Pets are known to spoil a good Christmas party by getting into trouble. What are some of the things you should be aware of to prevent a costly trip to the emergency clinic?

Pet safety during the holidays

Chocolate

Chocolate is like cocaine to pets and can be deadly if enough is consumed. Baker’s (unsweetened) and dark chocolate are much more dangerous than milk or white chocolate. A big dog would need to eat a lot of milk chocolate to get sick, but if he eats a bar of baking chocolate, he could die. Symptoms occur within 6 to 12 hours of ingestion and begin with vomiting, drinking excessively, diarrhea, and restlessness. It progresses to hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, hyperthermia and coma. Death is caused by heart arrhythmias and respiratory failure.

Here are some guidelines to help you determine if you should rush Buddy to the vet:

A small dog (5 lb.) can eat 1 oz. of milk chocolate but not 3 oz.  Even 1 oz. of dark chocolate in a small dog can be dangerous.

A medium-sized dog (10 lb.) must eat 3 oz. of milk chocolate to get sick and can tolerate 1 oz. but not  2oz. of dark chocolate.

A big dog (35 lb.) can gobble up to 8 oz. of milk chocolate but when he gets to 10 oz., take him to an emergency vet. He will be in danger if he eats more than 4 oz. of dark chocolate.

Almost any amount of semi-sweet or baker’s chocolate is dangerous.

Just to give you perspective: a Hershey bar of milk chocolate is 1.6 oz. So one of these is dangerous to a small dog. A bag of Ghirardelli’s semi-sweet chips (more dangerous than dark) is 12 oz., so those are very dangerous if partially consumed by even a big dog. Many of the popular candy bars don’t have much chocolate in them and most of it is milk, but these designer chocolate bars with 78 percent cacao are very toxic.

If you aren’t sure, take your dog to the emergency clinic. Always better safe than sorry.

More on pets and chocolate here.

Table scraps

Oh, I know. It is hard to resist those pitiful eyes looking up at you while you eat your delicious turkey dinner. But a cat’s or dog’s digestive system can go into overload with rich food they are not used to. The big risk is pancreatitis, which is life-threatening. Both cats and dogs get extremely sick and their livers can fail. Less deadly is diarrhea due to intestinal bacterial overgrowth. It is OK to give Buddy and Fluffy a SMALL amount of lean meat as a treat, but please keep it small. 

Foods pets should NEVER eat because of toxicity are ONIONS, GRAPES and RAISINS, GARLIC, MACADAMIA NUTS, COFFEE and AVOCADOS. If you are a baker, RAW BREAD DOUGH is extremely dangerous since it expands in your pet’s stomach. Sugarless gum and candies that contain XYLITOL are also very toxic.  

Toxic plants

Table centerpieces and holiday flower arrangements are a lovely addition to your home during the holidays, but keep them away from the pets. Cats are especially attracted to plants in a vase and will chew and ingest potentially toxic ones. In addition, I have seen broken glass injuries from those tempting vases. MISTLETOE, PINE NEEDLES, HOLLY and any kind of LILY, including day lilies, Amaryllis and Asian lilies are all toxic. HOPS are toxic too, so no double IPAs for pooch. RHUBARB can fry a dog’s or cat’s kidneys. Many ornamentals such as CARNATIONS, CHRYSANTHEMUMS, PEONIES, ELEPHANT EARS and SAGO PALMS all have varying toxicities. Poinsettias can cause mild burning in the mouth and hypersalivation but are not all that toxic. Best just to keep the plants out of reach. 

If you need help, the ASPCA has a good website and an emergency hotline for animal poison control.

Christmas trees

One Christmas it took only 30 minutes for my cat to bring the tree crashing down. Blunt trauma, electric shock and broken glass are all dangers of a toppled tree. The risk of fire from frayed cords and dried trees is real, so plug in your tree lights only when home and make sure your tree doesn’t get too dry. Pine needles are toxic to pets and the water in the tree bowl can lead to gastric upset.

Have a purrfect holiday season this year and keep your loved ones safe.

##RVDT1745

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Joe
1 month ago

Just reading yesterday to watch out for cane toads in southern Florida. If a dog licks or eats the toad it will be dead in 15 minutes. Although they are mostly out in summer they have been active year round during warm streaks in the winter. Among other things, the toads are attracted to is pet food that is left out overnight.

Our yellow lab once ate one of the green spirals labeled as mosquito repelling coil that you light to keep bugs and mosquitoes away. A trip to the vet and he somehow induced vomiting to get it out. One thing about a lab, at least ours, they will eat anything. Don’t ask how my wife’s nylons came out!

Rebecca
1 month ago

Xylitol! Found in sugarless gum…deadly to dogs & far worse than chocolate. I have the $1200 vet bill to prove it.

Ike
1 month ago

While walking our small pup (who picks up everything in her mouth) she evidently got hold of either a joint or a marijuana bud/leaf that was on the ground. About 30 min after the walk she vomited, could not stand up, eyes were closing, not very responsive to us. After an hour trip to the closest Emergency Vet, an overnight stay and almost $900., she is ok. The vet told us there was pieces of pot in her vomit (yes, we took it along) and that they are seeing this more often now. It COULD be fatal (depending on dose) and intervention (as we did) is critical. So be aware.
She is ok today, and we are full time and were at an overnight stop on our way to our destination for Dec. It was a fright that we do not want to experience again! And no – we do not indulge! We did in college but didn’t inhale ;-), so the statute of limitations has passed.

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Ike

That’s what Teflon Bill Clinton always claims. I didn’t inhale! Lol

Ike
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

I expected someone to get that!
Now that weed is legal in some places, this can be a bigger issue. I was told tht some dogs (like one of mine) like the smell and all it takes is for a discarded “roach” or a bit of pot that falls on the ground and a dog who will pick up even small bits – a problem can happen. Mine is a small 8/9# mix, so it didn’t take much!