“The holidays can be a time of joy and excitement, but as veterinarian, Dr. Laura Catena warns, “we need to be aware of the potential dangers to our fur family, especially this time of year.”
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states, “Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are among the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets who decide to eat them. Poinsettias can be troublesome as well.”
“Our pretty Christmas trees can be a health and safety hazard for our pets,” says Dr. Laura, “If ingested, the fir tree oils can cause excessive vomiting and drooling. The tree needles, if sharp, can be damaging to the GI tract when ingested and potentially puncture the lining of the intestinal tract.
Additionally, stagnant Christmas tree water can be a breeding ground for bacteria. If your pet ingests this stagnant water, gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, may occur.
Holiday decorations, including tree ornaments, ornament hooks, and tinsel, can also be very harmful if ingested. These objects can cause intestinal blockages— frequently requiring surgery in order to remove the obstructed object.
If your pet chews on Christmas tree lights, they are at risk for electrical burns in their mouth, as well as electrical shock.
Dr. Laura cautions, “while we are all enjoying the deliciousness of the season, it is vital to keep certain foods away from our fur kids:
Chocolate, nutmeg, alcohol, garlic and onions, grapes and raisins, and bones are all harmful to pets. If your pet ingests any of these items, or any other food or drink item that may be toxic, it is advised to seek veterinary treatment immediately (there are veterinary emergency hospitals that are open 24 hours a day – specifically for emergency cases like these).”
Keeping our fur kids safe during the holidays and throughout the year make for a safe and happy home. Wishing you a joyful, happy Holiday season!
A special thank you to Dr. Laura Catena for helping us keep our fur kids safe!
(Dr. Laura Catena is a veterinarian in Pennsylvania. She is the developer of the compassionate safety tool, ArmOR Hand Animal Handling Gloves. Dr. Laura consults with veterinarians worldwide on many veterinary cases. Please visit www.armorhandglove.com and follow her Facebook page! www.facebook.com/armorhandglove
A few more words about Toxic Substances:
Dr. Laura says, “If you suspect that your pet may have ingested a toxic item, it is best that you contact your veterinarian as soon as possible or a Pet Poison Helpline (they can advise you on steps to take for a safe way to attempt decontamination at home through inducing vomiting, or they can advise veterinary care depending on the severity.)”
Dr. Laura warns, “It is NOT advisable to wait for symptoms to manifest if a known ingestion has occurred.
When it comes to poisoning, there are many unknowns regarding the dose ingestion and how much this may adversely affect your pet—every case is unique.
The sooner the poisoning is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis for your pet. Diagnostic tests may include blood work, as well as a urinalysis, to assess organ function. The test results will help determine the likelihood of recovery. The main goal of treatment is to block absorption of toxins.
The standard treatment is to decontaminate the pet immediately through the induction of vomiting and administration of activated charcoal. These treatments help to prevent absorption of the ingested poison. Following decontamination, more treatment might be necessary. Aggressive IV fluids help to flush out any of the absorbed toxins from the body as quickly as possible. Pharmaceuticals may need to be administered in order to further preserve organ function, maintain blood pressure, as well as hydration.
At times, it is recommended that pets be hospitalized and on fluids for the next 24 to 48 hours following ingestion—depending on the severity. Blood work frequently then needs to be repeated to make sure that organ function has not deteriorated.
If you cannot get to the vet immediately, never induce vomiting when corrosive substances (like batteries) have been ingested: