Category Archives: Holiday dangers

Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s Festive Feline Faux-Pas

Welcome back for the Kingsbrook Animal Hospital‘s holiday hazards: cats edition (last week we considered holiday hazards for dogs).  There are cross-over hazards to beware of for both dogs and cats that were discussed last week, such as:

  • Blog star Johnny Blaze is back with a message for all cats everywhere: don't eat holiday plants!

    Blog star Johnny Blaze is back with a message for all cats everywhere: don’t eat holiday plants!

    watching to make sure pets are not eating people foods that can make them sick, like raw bread dough, chocolate, xylitol, and alcohol

  • being diligent about not giving in to overindulgence to prevent GI upset
  • keeping festive plants in places pets do not have access to, or considering fake plants, as many holiday plants are toxic
  • keeping medications out of reach
  • monitoring your pet’s access to the Christmas tree or if unable to do that or placing ornaments higher on the tree so they are not at a good “batting or chewing” height
  • and unplugging your electrical cords when pets are not being supervised.

    Here are some other holiday hazards that are more cat specific:

    KAH client service rep Kelly's "cousin" Buddy decides to decorate himself for Christmas! Many cats are attracted to garland and will chew or even ingest pieces of it.

    KAH client service rep Kelly’s “cousin” Buddy decides to decorate himself for Christmas! Many cats are attracted to garland and will chew or even ingest pieces of it.

    Tinsel, ribbon, and strings– Few cats are able to pass by this stuff without stopping to bat, chew or ingest it! In fact, strings are one of the top foreign bodies seen in cats year-round.
    Liquid potpourri or candles– These candles and warmers can help our homes smell wonderful during the holiday season and throughout the year, but do pose a burn risk for cats. If you have a counter-surfing cat then please unplug or blow out while the cat is not under your direct supervision.
    Finally, some cats find it thrilling to attempt to climb the Christmas tree. Create an unpleasant barrier (tin foil, double-sided sticky tape) around the base of the tree to help deter them from climbing. It is always a good idea to securely anchor your tree as well- just to be safe.
    Allowing a “safe zone” for your feline friend to retreat to as needed where it is quieter and away from the festivities can provide them with a much appreciated break.

    While you cannot always prevent emergencies from happening, we hope this list helps keep your pets safe and happy during the holidays. It can be very helpful to have your veterinarian’s phone number, as well as a local emergency hospital’s number, pre-programmed into your phone to be prepared in case of emergency. The veterinarians and veterinary staff here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD wish you and your fur babies a happy holiday season!

Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s Top Canine Christmas Calamaties

The 2016 holiday season is here, and with the festive spirit also comes some special consideration for dog owners (come back next week for Holiday Hazards for Cats).

What would the holidays be without all the tasty treats?!  Many people are giving or receiving baked goods during the holidays, which depending on the ingredients can pose a health risk to your fur babies.  Most of us know by this point to watch out for chocolate and xylitol, but some others we might not be quite so familiar with are: raw bread dough, grapes, raisins, alcohol, and onions.

  • Overindulgence, while often originally well-intentioned, can cause severe gastrointestinal upset that may require your pet to be hospitalized.  You can try to prevent this by pre-emptively giving out some of your dog’s treats or dog food to guests to eliminate those fatty, spicy, yummy human foods and bones.

    KAH technician Katie's own Maddie says, "Pointsettias will cause GI upset (vomiting, nausea, etc.) in pets who decide to have a taste!"

    KAH technician Katie’s own Maddie says, “Pointsettias will cause GI upset (vomiting, nausea, etc.) in pets who decide to have a taste!”

  • Holiday plants- poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, lilies, and pine trees- all help to fill the home with bright colors and festive smells during the holiday season.  Mistletoe can be very toxic to animals.  Poinsettia is a holiday favorite most people falsely think of as being extremely toxic, although it can still be quite irritating to our pet’s GI systems.
  • Be sure to check to make sure any water additive for your Christmas tree is pet friendly.
  • There are often large numbers of visitors throughout the holiday season, and pets can consume medications that family and friends have brought with them. Dogs can be very curious and suitcases and luggage can be an interesting new thing for them to nose through and many are not above chomping or eating medications.

    Many medications safe for humans can be dangerous for pets. Even pet medications can be hazardous if the pet overdoses!

    Many medications safe for humans can be dangerous for pets. Even pet medications can be hazardous if the pet overdoses!

  • People often have their medications with them- sometimes even all the medications mixed together in a bag or a daily pill organizer. Keeping all medications closed in a cabinet can help keep you dog safe.  Also, asking visitors take medication in a room separate from the pets can be prudent too- this way if a pill is dropped it can be located again before your dog has a chance to eat it.
  • Traveling with a list of your medication’s name, milligrams, and the number of pills you have can be extremely helpful in an emergency ingestion situation.
  • KAH assistant Robin's Jacoby proves that curiosity isn't just for cats! Garlands, ornaments, and lights can be hazardous to unsupervised furry friends.

    KAH assistant Robin’s Jacoby proves that curiosity isn’t just for cats! Garlands, ornaments, and lights can be hazardous to unsupervised furry friends.

    Finally, ornaments, lights, and electrical cords can be enticing for your four legged friends to play with and/or chew. The dangers associated with your dogs’ playing with these can include: lacerations, electrical shock, and foreign body ingestion.

While you cannot always prevent emergencies from happening, we hope this list helps keep your pets safe and happy during the holidays.  It can be very helpful to have your veterinarian’s phone number as well as a local emergency hospital phone number pre-programmed into your phone, so if there is an emergency you are prepared. The veterinarians and veterinary staff here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD wish you and your fur babies a happy holiday season!

Holiday Pet Poisoning Myths Debunked!


Veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline Clear the Confusion
Holiday festivities, decorations and rich foods can wreak havoc on undiscerning pets who love to taste test everything that appears new and interesting. While pet owners need to be made aware of the very real and dangerous threats to pets this time of year, the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline would also like to debunk several common myths that cause unnecessary stress each holiday season.

Holiday Myths Debunked!

According to the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline, these are the most common myths concerning pet safety during the holiday season.

Myth #1 – Poinsettias are highly toxic. Although they have a bad rap, poinsettia plants (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are only mildly dangerous to dogs and cats and their relative toxicity has been quite exaggerated. The most problematic component of the plant is its sticky white sap that may cause mild mouth or stomach irritation if ingested. Contact with the skin may also result in mild irritation. However, serious poisoning is not expected from ingestion.

Myth #2 – Mistletoe is toxic. Like poinsettias, American mistletoe, which is a popular plant used as holiday décor, also gets a bad rap. Rumors of its toxic nature are largely attributed to its cousin, European mistletoe. Though ingestion of American mistletoe leaves or berries may cause mild stomach upset, serious or life-threatening poisoning is not likely.

Myth #3 – Fruitcake is a healthy holiday treat. While fruitcake may be a fine food for people, it can actually be deadly to pets. Grapes, raisins and currants are common ingredients in fruitcakes and can result in kidney failure in dogs if ingested. Additionally, fruitcake that has been soaked in rum or other alcohol may also prove poisonous to your pet if ingested. Alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and can affect pets quickly, causing a dangerous drop in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.

Myth #4 – Tinsel is a pet-friendly decoration. An ornament that pet owners should avoid is tinsel for decorating trees. If you own a cat, toss the tinsel! What looks like a shiny toy can prove deadly if ingested. While tinsel itself is not poisonous, it can result in a severe linear foreign body, which occurs when something “stringy” wraps around the base of the tongue or anchors itself in the stomach, rendering it unable to pass through the intestines. As the intestines contract and move, the string can slowly saw through the tissue, resulting in severe damage to your pet’s intestinal tract. Treatment involves expensive abdominal surgery. It’s best to keep tinsel, as well as ribbon, yarn and thread out of your pet’s reach.

“Dogs, cats, birds and other pets often use their mouths to investigate new things,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “Much like small children, they simply cannot resist the temptation to chew on potentially harmful plants, foods and other ‘goodies.’ Thankfully, it’s easy for pet owners to educate themselves about common pet poisons. At www.petpoisonhelpline.com you can view and print our list of toxic foods and post it on your refrigerator as a reminder. This is also a way to discourage your holiday guests from feeding Fido poisonous people food!”

Real Holiday Dangers

Lilies, including tiger, Asiatic, stargazer, day and Easter, make lovely centerpieces but are also extremely toxic to cats. These beauties fall into the category of real and acute danger. As little as one or two petals or leaves, and even the pollen, can cause sudden kidney failure. They should be kept well out of kitty’s reach. Thankfully, dogs are not as severely affected by lilies with only mild stomach upset expected.

While not as toxic as lilies, ingestion of Christmas cactus by dogs and cats can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Likewise, the spiny and leathery leaves of the Christmas or English holly can result in significant damage to the stomach and intestines of dogs and cats. The holly’s berries have mildly toxic properties, but are fairly tolerable in most pets. While death is not likely, it’s best to keep your pets away from these holiday plants.

Filling your house with the smell of nutmeg or pine is inviting, but if you heat scented oils in a simmer pot, be aware that it can cause serious harm to your cat. Some liquid potpourris contain chemicals called cationic detergents, which can result in severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing and tremors. Dogs are not as sensitive to the chemicals but may still suffer burns so it’s still better to be safe than sorry. Scent your home with a non-toxic candle in a safe no-pet zone.

With the holiday season comes delightful baked goods, confections and other rich, fattening foods. However, it is not wise, and sometimes quite dangerous, to share these foods with your pets. Keep them on their regular diets over the holidays and do not let family and friends sneak them these kinds of treats. Some of the most dangerous foods are chocolate and cocoa, sugarless gum and candy containing xylitol, leftover fatty meat scraps, and unbaked bread dough containing yeast.

Make this holiday season merrier for you and your pets by keeping dangerous items safely out of their reach. If, however, you think your pet may have ingested something harmful, take action immediately. Contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680.

About Pet Poison Helpline

Pet Poison Helpline is a service available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. The staff can provide treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species. As the most cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline’s fee of $35 per incident includes unlimited follow-up consultations. Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 1-800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at www.petpoisonhelpline.com.

Holiday/Seasonal Hazards for our pets


Here are some things to steer clear of during the holiday and winter season!

PLANTS

Lilies- typically found in holiday flower arrangements, several varieties can be deadly to cats. Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer and Casa Blanca lilies all potentially cause kidney failure in cats.

Poinsettias- contrary to popular belief ingesting this holiday flower is not severly toxic to our pets. They can be irriting to the mouth and stomach if eaten, and therefore can cause mild vomiting or nausea.

Mistletoe- when eaten, this can often times just cause gastrointestinal upset but has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems.

Holly- vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy are the symptoms to look for if your pet eats this festive plant.

FOODS

Chocolate- in order from most toxic to least toxic- baker’s, semi-sweet, milk chocolate. Keep in mind that a lot of holiday sweets are wrapped in foil and this can also be irritating to your pets GI tract as well as a potential cause for blockage.

Alcoholic beverages (hops as well, if you are brewing at home)
Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered expresso beans)
Fatty foods
Salt
Yeast dough
Onions, onion powder
Moldy or spoiled food

HAZARDS AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE

*Christmas Tree water- sometimes contains fertilizers which can cause stomach upset. It is also a breeding ground for bacteria that can lead to vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. Also if you have a real tree- make sure it is secure to prevent pets from knocking it over.

*Electric Cords – your pet is at risk for electrocution if chewed. Avoid exposure by hiding or covering cords.

*Ribbons or Tinsel- if ingested these linear items can get caught in the intestines and cause and intestinal obstruction

*Batteries- batteries contain corrosives that can ulcerate the mouth, tongue, and the rest of the GI tract.

*Glass ornaments- Can cut the mouth, tongue and rest of the GI tract if eaten. If your pets seem interested in ornaments- a suggestion would be to decorate the bottom third of the tree with wood or plastic ornaments that won’t break.

*Burning Candles

OTHER WINTER HAZARDS

Antifreeze- unfortunately, antifreeze tastes sweet to pets, and very small amounts of it can be lethal. If you think any amount (even just a teaspoon) has been ingested by your pet, contact your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately ( 1-888-4ANI-HELP).

Liquid potpourris- some types can result in severe oral, skin, or eye issues

Ice Melting products- can be irritating to skin and mouth. Symptoms include excessive drooling, vomiting, and lethargy.

Rat and Mouse killers- used more commonly during cold weather. Just make sure they are in places your pets can not reach them.