The 12 Hazards of the Holidays

By November 20, 2012 March 25th, 2013 Uncategorized

**This information is courtesy of the VEC (Veterinary Emergency Clinic) in Toronto, Ontario.  Click HERE to check out their website!**

1.  Ethylene Glycol (Antifreeze) – This common toxin can cause acute kidney failure with as small an amount as 4.2mL/kg in dogs and 1.5mL/kg in cats.  Usually the first signs seen are lethargy, wobbliness, increased drinking and increased urination.  If emergency treatment is not instituted this toxin is usually fatal.

2.  Chocolate – Seen more frequently during the holidays, symptoms can be variable depending on the “purity of the chocolate.” The darker the chocolate, the less your pet needs to consume to develop symptoms.  Symptoms include increased thirst, vomiting, restlessness, increased heart rate or arrhythmia (abnormal rhythm) and can progress to seizures.

3.  Prescription drugs – With the hustle and bustle of the holidays added to visiting family and friends, ingestion of our human medications can be a real hazard.  Dogs and cats do not react the same way as people do.  Consulting with your veterinarian or Poison Control can be a liver saver.

4.  Poinsettia – Commonly thought to be “the” toxin of the holidays the plant rarely causes more than gastric upset.  Having said that , it is best to keep these ornamental plants out of reach (or out of the house) to avoid vomiting and diarrhea in your pet.

5.  Raisins/Grapes – Because the mechanism of toxicity is not known, we do not know how much is too much with raisins so please be careful as this “treat” can cause renal failure and even death.

6.  Mistletoe – A rather infrequent toxin because of rarity and expense, mistletoe can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fluid loss and even death has been reported.

7.  Macadamia nuts – Although the chemical causing the toxin has not yet been identified, this ingestion can cause depression, inability to use the hind limbs or stand, in-coordination and vomiting   Fortunately, this toxicity is usually self limiting but unpleasant during the episode.

8.  Bulbs – The amaryllis is favorite for many this time of year but its bulb can cause vomiting and diarrhea in both dogs and cats.

9.  Road Salt – Rarely is this seen as an acute oral ingestion but road salt can cause significant discomfort in the pads of dogs.  Combine this with a small cut and that be become quite painful.

10.  Foreign bodies – Toys, ribbons, ornaments – is it any wonder that the occurrence of these accidents increases during the holiday season?  Just like you would with a baby in the house – pet proof the holidays and avoid an emergency trip to the veterinarian this holiday season.

11.  Table scraps/change in diet – Sure everyone enjoys a bit of turkey during the holidays but allowing your pets to ingest bones or letting Grandma feed the dog the leftovers could result in a trip to the veterinarian.  Try to avoid changes in your pet’s diet as much as possible.

12.  Hypothermia – During the winter months hypothermia can and does affect our furry friends.  Cats are especially prove to this and more so over the busy holiday season when they may choose to stay outdoors to avoid the hustle and bustle inside.