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Ask the Vet: Holiday Hazards

Dr. David Knox

As we move swiftly into the holidays, it’s time to remember that our holiday fun can be dangerous for our pets. From the sheer volume of seasonal foods to the sudden appearance of seasonal decorations, there are plenty of things to pay attention to.

Bones from the holiday meat selections can be a problematic for your pet. Dangers of bones can range from stomach upset, to getting caught in the mouth or esophagus, to sharp edges poking holes in and throughout the intestines.

Fatty foods can cause diarrhea, vomiting, or severe and potentially deadly pancreatitis. Even if you throw the fatty parts of the food away, be very cautious of the trash can. Many a dog has been hospitalized because his nose and stomach couldn’t resist the bounty in the trash can buffet.

Part of the fun of the holidays is decorating the house. Some of the common decorative plants can cause stomach irritation or may be truly toxic to your pet. Ornaments or shelf-sitting decorations can be knocked off and broken leading to injury. Glow sticks can be chewed and cause mouth irritation. All of the extra electrical cords and wires can be enticing to both dogs and cats, leading to chewing or getting wrapped up in them.

Of course, chocolate can be toxic to pets. In general, the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. Cocoa, baking and dark chocolate have the highest toxicity potential and white chocolate has the lowest potential. This can cause seizures, internal bleeding, and heart attack. Less than 1 ounce of dark chocolate can poison a 44 pound dog.

If you suspect that your pet has eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your vet, an emergency hospital, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

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