Christmas Hazards

Christmas is an exciting time of year for many families! There is decorating to do, presents to wrap, and food to make; all of which pose hazards to your pets. This is a list of decorative items and food items that have the potential to harm our pets.

  • Poinsettia the Plants – The huge majority of commercially-dispersed poinsettia plants have been altered to be non-toxic, but some can still cause harm to your pets. If consumed by your pet, you can see signs including vomiting, drooling or, rarely, diarrhea. It’s possible that some pets may experience skin irritation if the milky sap is exposed to their skin, including redness, swelling, and itchiness. Generally these symptoms are self-limiting but if they persist a trip to the veterinarian may be necessary.
  • Ornaments and Tinsel – These pretty decorations can cause painful cuts in your pets stomach or intestines and even intestinal blockages if swallowed or chewed. Ornaments and tinsel look like fun, new, shiny toys to most pets and often get knocked off the tree or mantle and pushed into corners or under furniture where pets eat pieces of them. If you see your pet eating any Christmas décor, quickly take the item away and check for missing pieces. If you are concerned, a call to the veterinarian will help you decide if immediate treatment is needed. If your pet begins to vomit, stops eating, or is acting lethargic, there may be a serious problem.
  • Chocolate – Many of our favorite Christmas treats contain large amounts of chocolate. The ingredient that is toxic to our pets is called theobromide. Every type and brand of chocolate has different amounts of the toxin in them. Generally, baking chocolate is the worst, followed by dark chocolate, then milk chocolate, and lastly white chocolate. If your dog has consumed chocolate or snacks containing chocolate, call your veterinarian to determine if immediate action is needed. Signs of chocolate toxicity can be as mild as vomiting, diarrhea, and hyper-excitability, but can be as severe as seizures, coma and death.
  • Wrapping Paper, Ribbon, and Bows – Everyone loves to decorate gifts with pretty paper, curly ribbons, and fun bows. These decorations often move in the breeze and reflect light making them very attractive toys for our pets. Eating ribbons and bows commonly causes vomiting and can also cause ulcers of the stomach or intestinal and even intestine obstructions. Signs of a serious problem include vomiting, lack of appetite, and lethargy.

If you suspect your pet has consumed any of these important toxins (or others), call your veterinarian immediately. They will be able to better determine if/or when your pet needs to be examined.