Holiday sweets with chocolate are not for pets. Depending on the dose ingested, chocolate (bakers, semi-sweet, milk and dark) can be potentially poisonous to many animals. Unsweetened baking chocolate contains almost seven times more theobromine as milk chocolate. Vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate can be seen with the ingestion of as little as a quarter of an ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog.
Following are some more tips to keep your pet healthy during the holiday season:
Keep your pet on its normal diet. Any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals that have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements.
Dont give pets holiday leftovers, and keep pets out of the garbage. Poultry bones can splinter and cause blockages. Greasy, spicy and fatty foods can cause stomach upset; spoiled or moldy foods could cause food poisoning signs, tremors or seizures.
Alcohol and pets do NOT mix. Place unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot reach them. If ingested, the animal could become very sick and weak and may go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.
Keep aluminum foil and cellophane candy wrappers away from pets. They can cause vomiting and intestinal blockage.
Be careful with holiday floral arrangements. Lilies are commonly used this time of year, and all varieties, including Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca can cause kidney failure in cats. Safe alternatives can include artificial flowers made from silk or plastic.
Common Yuletide plants such as mistletoe and holly berries can be potentially toxic to pets. Should a cat or dog eat mistletoe, they could possibly suffer gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Holly can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and lethargy if ingested.
Poinsettias are considered to be very low in toxicity. However, they could cause mild vomiting or nausea if ingested by your pet.
Keep pets away from Christmas tree water. The water may contain fertilizers, which if ingested, can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water can also act as a breeding ground for bacteria and, if ingested, a pet could end up with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Consider decorating your tree with ornaments that are relatively less enticing to pets. Traditional decorations such as ribbons or tinsel, if ingested, can become lodged in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction. This is a very common problem, particularly with cats.
To reach the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, call 1-888-426-4435. For more information about the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, visit www.apcc.aspca.org.
From the Nov. 23-29, 2005, issue