Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Decoration Danger for Pets

I don't know about you, but we go pretty crazy at Christmas time with decorations. It's our favorite time of year, but also can be a dangerous time of year for pets. Some of our beloved yuletime traditions can be hazardous to our furry friends.

Here are a few cautions from the ASPCA:
  • Lillies are commonly used in holiday floral arrangements, but many varieties - including Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and the Casablanca - can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested.
  • Bag the boughs of holly and live mistletoe. Sure, they add a nice touch to your holiday d├ęcor, but holly can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy if eaten by your pet. And should he sample mistletoe, he could suffer gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic.
  • Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria—and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.

If you suspect that your animal companion has eaten a potentially toxic substance, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s emergency hotline at (888) 426-4435 for round-the-clock telephone assistance.

Be merry, but be safe, too.

Woof! from Tucker at For Love of a Dog

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for spreading the word on pet safety - AWESOME information! :) Here are some more tips from Pet Poison Helpline, another animal poison control based out of Minneapolis. Thanks for spreading the word!

    Dr. Justine Lee, DVM, DACVECC
    Associate Director of Veterinary Services
    Pet Poison Helpline
    www.petpoisonhelpline.com
    www.drjustinelee.com

    The holidays are stressful enough without having to worry about a potentially poisoned pet. Below is a list of holiday-related decorations, plants and food items that the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline recommend keeping away from pets.

    • Holiday Ornaments: When decorating for the season, consider your pets. Holiday decorations such as snow globes or bubble lights may contain poisonous chemicals. If your pet chews on them the liquid inside could be could be dangerous to their health. Methylene chloride, the chemical in bubble lights, can result in depression, aspiration pneumonia and irritation to the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract.

    • Tinsel: If you own a cat, forgo the tinsel. What looks like a shiny toy to your cat can prove deadly if ingested. Tinsel does not pose a poisoning risk but can cause severe damage to a cat’s intestinal tract if swallowed. Ultimately, cats run the risk of severe injury to, or rupture of their intestines and treatment involves expensive abdominal surgery.

    • Alcohol: Because alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, it affects pets quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure. Additionally, foods such as desserts containing alcohol and unbaked dough that contains yeast should be kept away from pets as they may result in alcohol toxicity, vomiting, disorientation and stomach bloat.

    • Holiday Foods: With the holiday season comes a delightful variety of baked goods, chocolate confections and other rich, fattening foods. However, it is not wise (and in some cases is quite dangerous) to share these treats with your pets. Keep your pet on his or her regular diet over the holidays and do not let family and friends sneak in treats. Foods that can present problems:
    - Foods containing grapes, raisins and currents (such as fruit cakes) can result in kidney failure in dogs.
    - Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, a chemical highly toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion in small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea but large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias.
    - Many sugarless gums and candies contain xylitol, a sweetener which is toxic to dogs. It causes a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and liver failure.
    - Leftover, fatty meat scraps can produce severe inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) leading to abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

    • Liquid Potpourri: Filling your house with the smell of nutmeg or pine for the holidays may seem inviting—but if you’re partial to heating your scented oils in a simmer pot, know that they can cause serious harm to your cat; even a few licks can result in severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing, and tremors. Dogs aren’t as sensitive, but it’s still better to be safe than sorry—so scent your home with a non-toxic candle kept safely out of kitty’s reach.

    Oh, and btw, Poinsettias are BARELY poisonous!! It's all hype! Instead, worry more about Easter, Tiger, or Asiatic lilies - one leaf will kill a cat and cause acute kidney failure!

    When it comes to the holidays, the best thing a pet owner can do is get educated on common household toxins and pet-proof your home accordingly. If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 ($35/call vs ASPCA's $60/case) with any questions or concerns.

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