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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Holiday Toxicities
By: Lauren Sanchez

The holidays are a time of celebrations, festivities and adornments. With all of the activities and distractions, potential dangers and toxicities to your pet can be overlooked. There are several holiday items that need to be kept away from curious dogs and cats. However, some plants, foods, or even ornaments may be ingested leading to an unplanned trip to your veterinarian. Here are some things to be aware of to keep your pet happy and healthy during the holiday season:
Common winter plants such as Poinsettias, Holly,and Mistletoe that are brought home during the holidays may be toxic to pets. Poinsettias (Euphorbia Pulcherrima), if ingested, are only mildly toxic. Poinsettias have a milky sap that will irritate the mouth and stomach and sometimes cause vomiting and dizziness. However, varieties of English, Japanese, and  Chinese Holly (Ilex Opaca) contain toxic Saponins or chemicals. When English or Christmas Holly is ingested, it can cause severe gastrointestinal problems which symptoms may include: drooling, excessive head shaking, and injury from the spiny leaves usually found on this type of plant. Lastly, Mistletoe (Phoradendron Flavescens) is commonly found in households during the holiday season. When ingested this plant will cause cats and dogs to have gastrointestinal irritation resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. If any of the listed plants are a key accent to your holiday d├ęcor and are believed to have been ingested, immediately call your veterinarian for medical advice.
It is important to have pets on a diet that is suitable to their type of species and needs. Although treats and rewards are nice, certain foods need to be avoided. Many cases of acute renal failure are associated with grape and raisin ingestion. Also, foods like chocolate and onions have a negative effect on dogs and cats. If eaten; onion may cause a breakdown in red blood cells causing blood in the urine, along with weakness, and a high heart rate. Chocolate, some gums and candy can cause heart disturbances and even seizures depending on the amount eaten. Lastly, bones should always be pre-approved or supplementary chew toys can be given. Turkey, chicken, and boiled bones should never be given to a pet. The effects of these bones include: damage to the esophagus, windpipe, stomach, and intestines. Before leaving these toxic foods out, it is highly important to check if they are within reach of a curious pet.
           Every animal enjoys chewing! Whether it be an expensive pair of shoes or a new ball, our furry friends take great enjoyment making use of an accessible toy. As holiday decorations are quickly making an appearance, many pets have a whole new territory to explore. When broken, holiday ornaments can create small shards which can puncture the esophagus, stomach, or other parts inside the animal's body. Shiny Tinsel can also attract an animal's attention in an instant and if ingested, it can be damaging to the intestines and cause severe vomiting or diarrhea. If the particles cannot be passed they will require veterinary attention and possible surgery. Although these items are often viewed as potentially harmless; even Christmas tree water can be harmful to pets if the water has been treated with chemicals.
Preventive care is the most effective way of keeping pets in good health during the holiday season. Be aware of dangerous plants, foods, and foreign items around your home.  Always supervise pets when given treats or toys and check surroundings for possible hazards.When accidents occur, stay calm and call a veterinarian immediately to avoid further complications. By taking caution and avoiding toxicities, both pets and their owners will have a happy and healthy holiday season.