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Illiana Veterinary Hospital wishes a happy holiday season for you and your pets. It can be a very busy season, and sometimes can expose your furry friends to hazards you may be overlooking. Here are some common health concerns to be aware of so that you may keep your pet safe during the holidays.

Holiday Tinsel, Ornaments, and Snow Globes

  • Dog in Santa HatCats especially can be very enticed by the shiny strands of tinsel. But eating tinsel and other string-like items can cause intestinal obstruction with signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and lethargy.

  • Colorful tree ornaments can also attract your pet. Pets can chew them and broken pieces can lacerate their mouth or intestinal tract, be a choking hazard, or cause intestinal obstruction.

  • Imported snow globes have been found to contain ethylene glycol, or antifreeze. Even a small amount ingested by a cat or small dog can be fatal. Immediate treatment is crucial.

Gift Wrap and Ribbon

These can be tempting for pets, particularly cats, to chew or swallow. This can present a choking hazard or intestinal obstruction which could lead to emergency surgery.

Holiday Foods and Overindulgence

  • Chocolate, due to theobromide in it, can have ill effects on your pet. Amount of chocolate ingested and type of chocolate determines toxic dose. In general, darker, richer chocolate (i.e., Baking chocolate) has higher risk of toxicity. Signs include vomiting, increase thirst, diarrhea, weakness, hyperexcitability, muscle spasms or seizures. As with any toxicity, call your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic if you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate. Have the product label information closeby.

  • Family and friends may like to share food with your pets during visits. This can cause upset stomach or even pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, caused by eating fatty foods. To help manage this, consider rationing out treats for guests to share instead. As at all times of the year, avoid giving pets bones as they may splinter and cause intestinal laceration or obstruction.

  • Foods containing grapes, raisins, and currants can cause kidney failure in dogs.

  • Sugarless gums and candies often contain xylitol, a sweetener toxic to dogs. It can cause a severe drop in blood sugar level and liver disease.

  • Liquid potpourri in a simmer pot can fill your house with holiday aromas. But they can cause serious problems in your cat. Just a few licks can cause chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing and tremors. Better to avoid them and use a candle out of your pets' reach.

Holiday Plants

  • Poinsettia plants have a bad reputation, and although not the healthiest thing for your pet are only mildly toxic. They can cause oral and stomach irritation and sometimes vomiting.

  • Lilies, holly and mistletoe are more worrisome. A small amount of lilies ingested by a cat can cause kidney failure. Holly and mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset.

  • Even the Christmas tree may present a problem if your pet likes to ingest the water in the tree stand. This often contains fertilizers, which may cause stomach upset.

Electrical Cords and Lights

Inspect your indoor and outdoor cords and lights. Electrical shock can occur from defective cords or if your pet is chewing on them. Cover up or hide them and use a grounded three- prong extension cord as a precaution.

From all of us at Illiana Veterinary Hospital, best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!