The ideal way to spend the holidays is in the company of family and friends rather than dealing with a visit to the veterinary hospital. As Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve approach, the experts in toxicology at Pet Poison Helpline are warning pet lovers about the numerous hazards that pets may encounter during this holiday season.
“We receive more potential poisoning calls in November and December than any other time of the year,” said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline, in a press release. “Some of the biggest threats during the holidays are toxins that are prevalent throughout the entire year, like lilies, chocolate, xylitol, and medication, but there are many toxic items that are specific to the holidays, such as eggnog.”
Holiday Pet Dangers
Pet Poison Helpline shared a distressing incident from last Christmas. One involves someone’s two cats, who fell seriously ill after nibbling on a lily from a holiday bouquet.
During the previous winter in Indianapolis, a puppy was poisoned by ingesting half a cup of ice melt. The main concern for the medical team was the sodium chloride. Apparently, this can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system signs, according to the Pet Poison Helpline.
Chocolate is a holiday danger for pets.
Another significant holiday danger is chocolate, with the added threat of xylitol. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is another dangerous toxin that can be combined with chocolate. With the increasing legalization of marijuana in many states, the Pet Poison Helpline has observed a rise in cannabis-related calls. While THC’s toxicity level is considered mild for dogs and cats, it can still have significant effects, they said.
Medications are a major year-round toxic threat. They become even more hazardous during the holidays when visitors may bring unknown medications into your home. “Of all the calls we receive at Pet Poison Helpline, animals ingesting human medications is one of our most common,” noted Dr. Schmid.
Pet Poison Helpline recounted an incident a few days before last New Year’s Eve. It involved an Alaskan Malamute puppy who ingested a Percocet, a pain reliever containing a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. A visiting relative dropped the pill on the floor, and although it was unfortunately found by the dog. Happily, she was treated promptly and made a full recovery. However, the outcome could have been much worse. If you have holiday guests, they suggest reminding them to keep their medications out of reach of family pets and children.
Holidays create more opportunities for pets to come in contact with various toxins. Pet lovers need to be extra vigilant. This is especially true when around new people or environments.