“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
I’m sure Fido and Fluffy are saying the same thing as new and exciting food items accumulate around the house and brightly wrapped packages with fun ribbons appear under that big smelly green thing (I think the humans call it, “tree”). While the holiday season brings great joy to all members of the family, we need to remember that while we splurge and enjoy the special treats of the season, we need to keep our pets on the straight and narrow to prevent really sick critters and costly vet bills!
Ribbon, ribbon everywhere! Its fun to watch our cats and kittens bat ribbon around and sit all cozy on top of the packages. That being said, cats seem to have an urge they can’t resist to ingest those beautiful ribbons. Many chew them up and pass Christmas-y stool, however, not all are so lucky and we see cats that present for vomiting and turn out to have a “linear foreign body”; fancy vet speak for “long string caught up in the intestines”. This is an issue that requires surgery and even then, doesn’t always have the best outcome. I know packages look better with curly ribbon, but consider your feline friend before you tie that pretty bow!
The list of tasty treats your pets may consume in the upcoming weeks is just too lengthy to even hope to cover, but I’ll mention the top offenders and recommend if you find any evidence of these indulgences, don’t hesitate to call your friendly veterinarian or ASPCA Poison Control (888-426-4435).
COOKIES (my personal kryptonite)! No matter what your tradition, many cookies contain ingredients that may be toxic to our pets. Chocolate is the primary offender and as a rule, the darker the chocolate the less it takes to cause a problem. Stocking stuffers are another source of taste delight for our pets (dogs especially) that may contain chocolate. If you know your critter has eaten chocolate or any other questionable food item, call your veterinarian immediately for advice!
Another eating note worth taking… even things that seem harmless (like a little turkey or roast beef) may cause some upset to those sensitive pet tummies who aren’t used to such rich and tasty treats. They’ll feel the excitement of the season without the human goodies; let them join the celebration with some of their normal treats!
Everyone’s homes look so festive decked out with plants and lights of all kinds. In addition to a Christmas tree you may have poinsettia or lilies adorning your normally clean surfaces. Cats, for whatever reason, love to chew on new plants and this can be a real problem this time of year. Luckily, most of the poinsettias that you can purchase will only cause a bit of gastrointestinal upset; Call your friendly veterinarian if you notice any vomiting or diarrhea this time of year. Christmas lilies aren’t overly common, but be especially careful if you have a cat. Eating a small amount of lily can cause a big problem for kitty kidneys.
And last (but not least) what better way to get into the spirit than… a few spirits! Animals are susceptible to the same side effects as humans when they’ve had one too many alcoholic beverages. So if you’re having a party, be careful about leaving cups of spiked eggnog, mulled wine and other spirits in pet accessible spots, our animals are lightweights given their small size and lack of tolerance (unless they’re regular drinkers, which I doubt!).
Happy Holidays from all of us at Central Animal Hospital!