Holiday Pet Health Hazards- Christmas


Christmas is a magical time of family gathering. Many of our pets participate joyfully in the celebration, but some are not exactly "party animals" and do not find a house full of guests to be entertaining whatsoever. 


Some pets will develop anxiety problems and respond with undesired behavior such as aggression, inappropriate elimination, running away or hiding. Make sure you pay attention to your pet's needs and, if needed, provide him/her with a quiet place away from the crowds.


The feast might not agree with the beast. With all the food, drinks and our good-hearted guests, pets can develop digestive problems. Excessive eating might cause bloating and indigestion. Too much fatty food can culminate in a serious pancreas infection (pancreatitis). Bones can be abrasive to the digestive system and cause intestinal obstruction. Round steak bones usually lock behind the canine teeth around the lower jaw and stay there.


Alcohol is toxic in small amounts and should not be accessible to pets. Chocolate poisoning is common in dogs. Signs may appear within one to four hours and include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drinking and urination, disorientation, excitement, hyperactivity, rapid breathing, seizures, weakness, coma and death. The toxicity of chocolate depends on the amount and type of chocolate ingested: One-quarter ounce of baking chocolate or 2 ounces of milk chocolate per kilogram of body weight is a potential lethal dosage in dogs. Chocolate poisoning is a serious emergency and treatment should not be delayed.


Ribbons, wrapping paper, ornaments, tinsel, extension cords and gifts may be used as" chew toys" that may make your pet sick. The shiny strands and other hanging items of Christmas tree décor make a great kitten playground; however ingesting tinsel and threads can be deadly and seriously damage the intestines. Watch for signs of vomiting, diarrhea, depression, belly pain and sometimes fever. Get the pet to the veterinarian if you suspect a problem.


Decorative lights and other electric devices are another serious hazard. For some reason some pets find electric cords attractive and irresistible for them to chew on. Electric cord injury may occur from defective cords as well as from pets biting into cords. Both indoor and outdoor lights should be carefully examined to ensure safety for you and your household pets. All pets including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and ferrets are at risk. Electric shock can cause burns, local swelling, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, shock, loss of consciousness, and death. Delayed lung damage may occur, so every incident is serious.


Poinsettias are all over the place during the holidays. Despite the bad publicity, they are not very toxic to pets. They may cause oral irritation and salivation that are usually self-limiting. Mistletoe, on the other hand, can be very toxic and cause vomiting, severe diarrhea, difficulty breathing, shock and death within hours of ingestion. If your pet ingested any part of the plant, seek veterinary help immediately. 


Garbage is a well-known source of "chewable items". Bad food, bones, wrapping material and sharp objects are only a few of the hazards. Keep the garbage cans away and covered. 


Do your best to prevent holiday related accidents, so that everybody can enjoy this wonderful time.

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Yuval Nir
Naperville University Commons Animal Clinic-
1827 Wehrli rd
Naperville , IL , 60565
(630) 544-3333
Veterinarians, Animal hospital