Caution: These Holiday Plants and Foods are Toxic to Pets

Be careful. These holiday plants and foods are toxic to pets.

The Holidays Are Coming!  Pets are known to spoil a good Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas party by getting into trouble. Certain holiday plants and foods are toxic to pets. By being aware of what they are, you can hopefully prevent a costly trip to the emergency clinic.

Chocolate:  Chocolate is like cocaine to pets and can be deadly if enough is consumed. Bakers and dark chocolate is much more dangerous than milk or white chocolate.  A big dog would need to eat a lot of milk chocolate to get sick but if he eats a bar of baking chocolate, he could die.  Symptoms occur within 6 to 12 hours of ingestion and begin with vomiting, drinking excessively, diarrhea, and restlessness. It progresses to hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, hyperthermia and coma. Death is caused by heart arrhythmias and respiratory failure.

Here are some guidelines to help you determine if you should rush Buddy to REACH:

  • A small dog (5 lb) can eat 1 oz of milk chocolate but not 3 oz.  Even 1 ounce of dark chocolate in a small dog can be dangerous.
  • A medium dog (10 lb) must eat 3 oz of milk chocolate to get sick and can tolerate 1 oz but not 2 oz of dark chocolate.
  • A big dog (35 lb) can gobble up to 8oz of milk chocolate but when he gets to 10 oz, take him to an emergency veterinary clinic. He will be in danger eating over 4 oz of dark chocolate.

Almost any amount of semi-sweet or baker’s chocolate is dangerous.

Just to give you perspective; a Hershey bar of milk chocolate is 1.6 oz. So, one of these is dangerous to a small dog.  A bag of Ghirardelli’s semi-sweet chips (more dangerous than dark) is 12 oz so very dangerous if partially consumed by even a big dog. Many of the popular candy bars don’t have much chocolate in them and most of it is milk, but these designer chocolate bars with 78% cacao are very toxic.

Almost any amount of semi-sweet or baker’s chocolate is dangerous. Click To Tweet

If you aren’t sure, take your dog to the emergency clinic.

Table Scraps:  Oh, I know – it is hard to resist those pitiful eyes looking up at you while you eat your delicious turkey dinner, but a cat or dog’s digestive system can go into overload with rich food they are not used to.  The big risk is pancreatitis, which is life-threatening.  Both cats and dogs get extremely sick and their livers can fail.  Less deadly is diarrhea due to intestinal bacterial overgrowth. It is okay to give Buddy and Fluffy a small amount of lean meat as a treat, but please keep it small.

Pets should NEVER eat the following foods because of toxicity: ONIONS, GRAPES & RAISINS, GARLIC, MACADAMIA NUTS, COFFEE and AVOCADOS.  If you are a baker, RAW BREAD DOUGH is extremely dangerous since it expands in your pet’s stomach.  Sugarless gum and candies that contain XYLITOL are also very toxic.

Toxic Plants:  Table centerpieces and holiday flower arrangements are a lovely addition to your home during the holidays, but keep them away from the pets. Cats are especially attracted to plants in a vase and will chew and ingest potentially toxic ones.  In addition, I have seen broken glass injuries from those tempting vases. MISTLETOE, PINE NEEDLES, HOLLY and any kind of LILY, including day lilies, Amaryllis and Asian lilies are all toxic.  HOPS are toxic too so no double IPAs for pooch. RHUBARB can damage a dog or cat’s kidneys.  Many ornamentals such as CARNATIONS, CHRYSANTHEMUMS, PEONIES, ELEPHANT EARS and SAGO PALMS all have varying toxicities. POINSIETTAs can cause mild burning in the mouth and hypersalivation but are not all that toxic. Best just to keep the plants out of reach.  If you need help, the ASPCA has a good website and an emergency hotline. Here is the link: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control.

The Christmas Tree: One Christmas it took only 30 minutes for my cat to bring the tree crashing down. Blunt trauma, electric shock and broken glass are all dangers of a toppled tree.  The risk of fire from frayed cords and dried trees is real so plug in your tree lights only when home and make sure your tree doesn’t get too dry.

Have a purrfect holiday season this year and keep your loved ones safe.

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