Seven Things that can Kill (or Severely Sicken) Your Dog or Cat this Holiday Season
With the holiday season rapidly approaching, one of the last things a person or a family needs is to make an emergency visit to their veterinarian because of a sick pet, especially in these difficult financial times, says Upstate New York veterinarian Dr. Richard Orzeck. Even though it is impossible to list all of the thousands of things that can cause harm to our cats and dogs in this short article, by highlighting a few of the more common problems veterinarians see or hear about during this winter holiday season, it is hoped that this report can help save your pets any unnecessary misery--or perhaps even save their lives. The complete seven page report which includes important toxic dosages, action plans, and poison control center phone numbers is available free at: www.worldsvet.com
Of all of the emergency calls vets get from pet owners during all hours of the day and night, one of the most common involves dogs (mostly) and their intentional or accidental eating of chocolate. From brownies to chocolate fudge cake mixes, from Hershey's Kisses to imported Belgian chocolate-covered cherries, everyone wants to know: Can chocolate kill my dog? The answer is: Depending on how much they ate, the answer is yes, it can!
2. THE HOLIDAY MEALS
Every year, beginning around one week before Thanksgiving and lasting until about a week after New Year's, there is a huge increase in really, really sick dogs (mostly) and cats (infrequently) seen by veterinarians These poor critters are really hurting! Most all are vomiting--retching would be a better term--some have diarrhea, and most have so much pain in their abdomens that they have to stand in a stiff, straight-legged, sawhorse stance. Almost all of them have an acknowledged recent history of what we veterinarians call dietary indiscretion. That is, these dogs and cats consumed either purposely, accidentally, or by their own covert efforts, more of something that they normally eat or consumed something that they should not have eaten at all!
3. THE CHRISTMAS TREE AND ASSOCIATED HOLIDAY DECORATIONS
There are hundreds of hazards that can potentially exist in a pet's encounter with a Christmas tree, and it is impossible to list them all. Hands down, one of the biggest problems seen involving the Christmas tree are cats (mostly) and dogs consuming the tinsel. Besides the potential danger of absorbing the heavy metals on these tin or lead-coated tinsels, the biggest danger is them getting stuck in the pet's intestinal tract, causing what we veterinarians call an intestinal blockage.
4. GRAPES AND RAISINS
The fact that grapes and, especially, raisins can be toxic to dogs and cats is quite surprising to many people. But now that you know better, and from now on: NEVER feed any grapes or raisins to your pets again. As few as seven raisins can kill a dog.
5) ALCOHOL POISONING
Pet owners and their guests usually forget to take into consideration that dogs are significantly lighter in body weight than humans. The twelve-ounce glass of spiked eggnog that causes 140-pound Aunt Debbie to dance naked on the dining room table can potentially kill 40-pound Clyde the basset hound. A second problem with intoxication (again using the example of Aunt Debbie) is that of inhibiting the dog's inhibitions. When you remove this inhibition by alcohol or other drugs, your "nice" doggie could potentially turn into a biting and snarling (as we vets say) land shark. When this happens, your family and guests could get seriously hurt.
6. HOLIDAY PLANTS
Along with everything else pets have to contend with during our holiday season, it is important as well to keep in mind the festive holiday house plants. A few of the more common problematic plants are listed below, but it must be kept in mind that a complete list would fill volumes.
*Poinsettia, American mistletoe, Holly, most forced bulb plants (daffodils, narcissi, tulips, autumn crocuses), Lilies, Amaryllis, and probably hundreds more!!!
American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 1-888-426-4435
7. ALL OF THE OTHER STUFF MOST PEOPLE DON'T THINK ABOUT
The list of items that can harm or kill a beloved pet is infinite. But with an owner's common sense and constant vigilance, the holiday season can be one of joy and excitement for all. Although far from complete, here are a few more things to pay attention to: Christmas candles and scented oils, onions, bread dough, seasonal medications, antifreeze, deicing products, batteries, tylenol, macadamia nuts, and many, many more.