The holidays always result in multiple calls to my clinic. This is the time of year that pets get into trouble eating things they should not. One of the most common toxins that we encounter is chocolate. Small animals seem to really enjoy consuming candy including wrappers. Many candies contain the toxin known as theobromine. The bitter cooking chocolate is higher in theobromine than the sweet. This is such a common problem I have an app, which allows me to calculate in a matter of a few minutes. A 30-pound dog consuming 2 ounces of baking chocolate is enough to be fatal. If your pet should consume chocolate contact your veterinarian immediately.
Another problem that we see around the holidays is cats that consume tinsel from the Christmas tree. This pretty decoration can be fatal if consumed. There is nothing toxic with this but when it gets into the intestines it can act as a saw and cut through the wall of the intestine. This results in a peritonitis that can kill the pet. Again, if you suspect your pet has consumed tinsel contact your veterinarian. Surgery is the method of treatment.
Plants can also be a problem. I have had dogs that are allergic to cedar trees. These dogs have intense itching. There are drugs that can be used to control the itching if it is just during the holiday season. Poinsettias have long been believed to be toxic. There is now evidence that suggest that it may not be true. Personally, I still recommend keeping all plants out of reach of pets. Many have isolated toxic principles. If possible, know the kind of plants one has in the home. This is helpful when trying to determine if the clinical signs the animal is showing are consistent with the toxic principles.
Always remember the trash too. Turkey or chicken bones can cause terrible problems. These bones can become very sharp and can puncture the internal organs resulting in death of the animal. If pork is included in your holiday meal, don’t feed the leftovers to your pets. High fatty diets can result in pancreatitis. It is much easier to prevent than treat. Pancreatitis can be fatal if left untreated. Gastritis can result from just consuming the trash. Resulting in vomiting and diarrhea and leaving one with a terrible mess to clean up and a sick animal.
Holidays are a time for fun and family. Paying attention to your pets can result in a good time for your four-legged family members.
From all the staff at Animal Clinic of the Ozarks, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” Have a safe and happy holiday season.


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