Holiday dogThe holidays sometimes present new hazards and considerations for cats and dogs.  Here are a few reminders that may make the holidays more enjoyable for you and your pets.

Uncooked Bread Dough:
When pets consume bread dough, the animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in the animal’s stomach.  In addition to the size problem, alcohol produced during the fermentation process can cause alcohol toxicosis.  This is primarily a problem for dogs that get on counters to steal bread dough, but can also happen to a lesser extent when cooks give dough to dogs as treats.  Pets who have eaten dough may experience abdominal pain, bloat, vomiting, disorientation, and/or depression.  If you see these signs in your pet, you may need to bring the pet to Healing Springs for evaluation.

Bones from Human Meals
Healing Springs sees multiple cases of problems caused by consuming ham bones, turkey bones, and other bones from human meals.  Bones can cause choking or intestinal blockage.  They also can splinter and perforate the stomach or intestines.

Cats Sometimes Eat Tinsel

Mistletoe Can Be Toxic
Don’t let pets nibble on it.  Keep mistletoe in high places such as over doorways.  If ingested in large enough quantities, mistletoe can cause stomach irritation, excessive thirst and urination, a drop in blood pressure and heart rate, seizures, coma, and /or death.  However, most cases of mistletoe ingestion involve only a couple of sprigs and mild stomach upset that resolves without treatment.

Poinsettias Not Good, But Not So Bad
The toxic effects of poinsettia consumption may have been exaggerated in the past.  Studies show that cases of poinsettia consumption have good outcomes, and that the effects of poinsettia consumption are mild.  If your cat or other pet is nibbling on a poinsettia, take it away.  Pets must consume a large volume of poinsettia to cause serious effects.  A 50lb dog would have to consume 1.25 lbs or 500 to 600 leaves to reach toxic levels.  The most common signs of poinsettia consumption are vomiting, anorexia, and depression.  The effects are self-limiting and typically require minimal treatment.

Dogs Can Sniff Out Food Gifts
If just one of your gifts under the tree contains food, don’t be surprised if your dog chooses that gift to unwrap when you aren’t around.  This can cause multiple problems from the dog consuming packaging to the dog consuming chocolates or other candies that are bad for pets.

Large Amounts of Holiday Food:
When a pet consumes a large amount of fat to which the body is not accustomed, an acute episode of pancreatitis can result.  Fat excess can result when humans serve pets a sizable portion of turkey, roast beef, ham, etc.  Pancreatitis is a painful, life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas that forces digestive enzymes into the body cavity.  Signs include severe vomiting, tense & painful abdomen, tiredness, refusal to eat, refusal to drink.

Chocolate Doesn’t Like Pets:
Chocolate can be toxic to pets – especially dark chocolate.   For more details on how chocolate affects pets, read the Halloween article from October 2005 (second to last paragraph).

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