Nov 25 2014



This is the time of year that can fill a veterinary hospital very quickly…the foods; the plants and even the decorations can cause serious issues. We see everything from digestive upsets, to ingested objects, to the more serious pancreatitis, which can be deadly and usually requires hospitalization and a pretty extensive cost.

Probably the most common problem during the holidays is overfeeding pets with leftovers…especially the fatty foods and gravies and sugary deserts – foods they are not used to – and sometimes in larger quantities than they are used to. Scraping half-eaten plates of food into the dog bowl can cause some serious issues.

PORK – has long been known to cause serious digestive problems. One of the main reasons is that pork is extremely fatty, and the possibility that it might not be cooked properly. Undercooked pork can carry the intestinal roundworm – causing Trichinosis. It’s important to make sure that pork is always cooked completely – not only to keep your dogs safe, but you and your family, as well.

RAISINS – many holiday foods contain raisins which can be deadly to dogs…keep any foods containing them OR grapes away from curious noses.

TURKEY – turkey has gotten a bad rap over the years because it contains an amino acid called L-Tryptophan, which some dogs are allergic to. And yet many pet foods are turkey-based…so what’s the answer? It is fine to give your pets ‘small’ amounts of turkey with absolutely NO FAT or BONES…but ‘small’ amounts. Not a plateful, and not a turkey leg. This is where common sense comes in.

NO BONES – Cooked turkey bones can splinter and lodge in an animal’s throat or intestines with life-threatening consequences. The carcass can also create dangers as it may harbor salmonella, an organism that lives in the turkey’s intestinal tract. Be sure to discard the carcass safely, where your pet can’t get to it.

BASICALLY, FAT, SUGAR, SODIUM AND BONES are the worst problems for your pets. When company comes to town, tell them that you would prefer they NOT slip those sad eyes any ‘extra’ yummy fare from the table. Not to say that an occasional nut or a bite of potatoes or yams will hurt – but it’s best to just avoid it all to avoid a ‘messy’ holiday.

Candy, nuts, cookies and other holiday treats are often set out on coffee and end tables for guests to graze on while waiting for the big meal. Unfortunately, pets can graze on these delectable foods as well. Baking chocolate is one of the most important chocolates to avoid. Chocolate can cause deadly heart arrhythmias – and your pet could be in serious trouble before you even realize it.


Poinsettia is probably one of the more common holiday plants – they have a latex-like sap that can cause vomiting, and serious digestive issues. Some pets are attracted to eating the beautiful red leaves, which can also disagree with them. Be sure to pick up any dead leaves that drop off while the plant acclimates to your home.

Mistletoe – leaves and berries are toxic to dogs and cats, and can cause severe gastrointestinal, cardiovascular (low BP, Low heart rate, and neurological symptoms).

Holly Plant – stems have chemicals that can cause your pet to become sick and lethargic.

Amaryllis – can cause salivation, gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and tremors…other names for this plant is Belladonna, Saint Joseph Lily, and Naked Lady.

Tinsel, Ribbons, Ornaments and Angel Hair – these are very dangerous for dogs and cats. They are drawn to these new, fun, colorful things, which can cause blockages, choking and serious digestive problems. You may have to be creative to keep these things out of reach of your pets.

Things you might not think of such as tin foil, plastic wrap, bottle caps, the string off the ham or turkey, and the little pop up things that says your turkey is done. These are very attractive to pets.

Electrical cords – the Christmas trees, garland and other decorations that are corded could be deadly. You can buy covers for the cords, and/or spray them with pepper spray to try to keep your pets from chewing on them, but that won’t work for all of them. And if you are leaving the house, it might be best to unplug everything, or just keep your pets out of that room.

Christmas tree water – the stand that most trees sit in are made to hold water. Many folks buy powders and chemical additives that are supposed to help keep the tree green longer. While these have their own issues, depending on what’s in them, the biggest problem can actually come from the tree itself. The fertilizer used during the trees growth is very toxic and will leech into the water…and many times, bacteria and mold will form in that water. So, be sure to keep that bowl covered with your tree skirt to keep your pets from drinking that water.

PANCREATITIS IS VERY SERIOUS. Basically, the pancreas malfunctions and the enzymes end up digesting the pancreas itself. Typical signs of pancreatitis can include severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Other side effects can be dehydration, shock, blood clotting disorders, heart arrhythmias and kidney or liver damage.

Pancreatitis may occur as a single episode or a recurring event. Overweight dogs and tiny breeds are sometimes at a greater risk – but ANY dog is susceptible, and will require immediate medical attention. If your veterinarian’s office is closed, do not wait – take your pet to the emergency room. Time is of the essence.

drkclark | Uncategorized

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