This information is taken from an educational handout that the Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services puts out around this time of year.
The holidays are a special time for everyone. There’s usually family, friends and good food. Sometimes, your pets can get overlooked in all the excitement. Here is a list of dangers around the holidays to watch for.
Christmas Tree Preservative – The mixture has sugar which can entice pets to drink it. Ingestion can cause mild vomiting and diarrhea. More severe symptoms can arise when the water becomes contaminated with bacteria or fungus.
Desiccant Gel Packs – These are found in new purses, shoe boxes, medication bottles, and other things that might benefit from a low moisture environment. Ingestion can cause mild vomiting and diarrhea.
Christmas Trees – If a pet eats the needles it can cause vomiting, anorexia (loss of appetite), abdominal pain and depression/lethargy.
Poinsettia – Ingestion can cause mild vomiting.
Holly – All parts of this plant are toxic. Can cause vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
Mistletoe – Eating a few leaves or berries can give the pet an upset stomach.Eating a large amount can cause more severe symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea and heart issues.
Lily – Easter Lilies, Tiger lilies, Day lilies, Asian lilies, Japanese Snow and others. Chewing on a single leaf can lead to kidney failure. * All exposures are to be considered potentially life-threatening.
Ethanol – (alcoholic beverages) – small dogs and cats are more sensitive and they typically tend to be attracted to mixed drinks with milk, cream, or ice cream. Ethanol is rapidly absorbed and can cause signs within 30-60 minutes after ingestion. Symptoms include vomiting, ataxia and disorientation. Large amounts lead to coma, seizures and even death.
Chocolate – The amount of toxin in the chocolate depends on the type. The more bitter the chocolate (such as baking), the more poisonous. Unsweetened baking chocolate contains 6 times more toxin than milk chocolate. White chocolate contains none. Can cause hyperactivity, increased heart rate, tremors and potential death.
Ribbon, Tinsel and String – Puppies and kittens tend to be attracted to these items. When swallowed, the body tries to push the string through the intestines. When this happens, it is called a linear foreign body. If it twists into a ball, the intestines can become obstructed. If a linear foreign body stretches out inside of the intestine, it can cause the intestine to “accordion” itself upon it. The intestine is constantly moving, trying to pass materials through, regardless if it “accordion’s” upon itself. This constant movement can create a sawing motion with the foreign body which can lead to holes in the intestinal wall. These are life-threatening scenarios that require surgery.
Electrical Cords – Just like Ribbon and Tinsel, puppies and kittens are tempted to chew and play with these. If they bite through the cord, severe burns of the tongue or mouth may occur. Damage to the area around the heart can also occur, causing the pet’s lungs to fill with fluid. This causes difficulty breathing. These are emergency situations.
These are also some things to keep in mind:
Onions, Macadamia nuts, rising bread dough, grapes and raisins, tobacco, xylitol (found in sugar-free gum), bones, candles, ornaments, batteries, potpourris, medications (human), anti-freeze, ice-melting products, rodent poisons, stress from visits.
The holidays can be a fun time for all. Please keep these dangers for your pet in mind when preparing your home.
For more information on hazards for pets: