Holiday pets

Pet-Safety Tips for The Holidays

Pet safety is important all year round, but you need to be especially wary at holiday time, when cats see interesting objects (plants, tinsel) they want to explore. Here, from the Pet Poison Helpline, are some things you should keep away from your pets.

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.

Skip the tinsel. Your cat may think of it as an interesting toy, but ingesting it can severely damage a pet’s intestinal tract. That means your pet is at high risk of intestinal rupture or expensive abdominal surgery. 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.

Keep plants out of reach. The Pet Poison Helpline experts say that while poinsettia plants are widely thought to be very poisonous, they are only mildly toxic. Other plants are far more dangerous: “Lilies, including tiger, Asiatic, stargazer, Easter and day lilies, are the most dangerous plants for cats,” Dr. Ahna Brutlag, assistant director of Pet Poison Helpline, says in material released by the organization. “The ingestion of one to two leaves or flower petals is enough to cause sudden kidney failure in cats.” Holly berries and mistletoe can also be toxic, causing intestinal upset and heart arrhythmias.

Watch out for alcohol. A pet who accidentally ingests alcohol can suffer dangerous drops in blood-sugar and blood-pressure levels, as well as a drop in body temperature. Other risks include seizure and respiratory failure, the pet-poison experts say. Besides alcoholic beverages, foods containing alcohol and unbaked, yeast-containing dough can be hazardous. They can cause alcohol poisoning, vomiting, disorientation and stomach bloat, according to the Pet Poison Helpline experts.

Foods to beware of. Anything containing grapes, raisins and currants (as in fruitcake) can lead to kidney failure in dogs.

Chocolate and cocoa, the pet-poison experts say, contain the chemical theobromine, which is highly toxic for dogs and cats. Ingesting a small amount can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but eating large amounts can lead to 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.

Other dangerous foods, the Pet Poison Helpline experts say, include fatty meat scraps. They can lead to  severe inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) as well as abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea.