The holidays are fast approaching! Make sure it stays a festive and safe holiday season for your four-footed family members as well. Here are a few things to watch out for, to keep everyone merry.

  • Holiday plants.
    Many owners worry about their pets eating poinsettias, but they are actually not very toxic, usually causing little more than mild gastrointestinal irritation. A much more serious problem is mistletoe. All parts of the plant are extremely toxic. Also, cat owners should carefully check any cut flower arrangements you give or receive – lilies of all kinds are highly toxic to cats. This includes Asiatic lilies, Tiger lilies, Day lilies, Easter lilies and Peruvian lilies (which don’t look much like lilies at all). Ask the florist if in doubt. If you think your cat may have ingested any part of one of these plants, get them to a veterinarian immediately! A few hours can be fatal.
  • Strings of various sorts.
    It’s a common myth that cats should play with string. The most common feline intestinal surgery we perform is removing “linear foreign bodies” – ribbon, yarn, tinsel, shoestrings, dental floss; you name it, we have taken it out. So if there is a kitty in your home this Christmas, skip the tinsel and be careful with the ribbon.
  • Christmas puppies or kitties.
    Pets are not last-minute gift ideas; no one should get a surprise gift that will need loving care for 15 years.
  • Chocolate.
    Dogs should never be fed chocolate, and many owners know this – but how dangerous it is depends on the weight of the dog, how much they ate, and the type of chocolate. Milk chocolate has the least cocoa by weight, and therefore is the least dangerous. High quality dark chocolate and baking chocolate are far more likely to make your dog sick. Still, to be safe, keep the Hershey’s Kisses well out of reach.
  • Xylitol.
    Xylitol is a new artificial sweetener in an increasing number of sugar-free candies, gums, mints and other products. Xylitol is highly toxic in even tiny amounts to both dogs and cats, causing severe liver failure and sometimes death. Check your purse and pockets; many poisoning cases have been caused by dogs or cats going into purses and eating the gum. These are not products I would recommend you keep in your home if you have a pet.
  • Hors d’oeurve overdose (also known as, “I’m sure he can have just a few”).
    The holiday spirit may move us to believe that a couple of Christmas cookies or a sausage ball or two won’t hurt. Look at those big brown eyes … it’s Christmas, after all…. Don’t do it. At our clinic, a significant portion of our day during the holiday season is settling upset stomachs. You don’t want to wake up Christmas morning to more of a surprise under the tree than you asked for. Keep up your pet’s regular diet – no egg nog or artichoke dip. You’ll thank me.
  • Oh look, the grandkids are here!
    Remember there is a lot of commotion this time of year, and your pet may not enjoy being in the middle of the party.  Make sure your pet is able to take a break from the action. Keep up their regular exercise, and give them a place they can go to get away from the noise and guests.

On behalf of the veterinarians and staff of the Cumberland Animal Clinic, we hope you and your family (both human and furry) have a safe and happy holiday season!