Christmas Toxins

Mmmm… We are definitely deep into treat season as people trade gifts, plants and baked goods by the plateful. If you have a counter surfing mutt or a pet that is interested in anything and everything, it’s time to find a nice place in your cupboard to hide all these tempting treats from your fur friend.

#1 Toxicity Culprit of All Time? Chocolate!

It is very easy in the bustle of things to leave a bag of chocolates out only to return and find bits and pieces of it everywhere and your dog giving you his best ‘I didn’t do it’ face.

This happens so often for so many reasons, that most veterinary offices have Chocolate toxicity charts right by their phones so receptionists can give good advice. We all hear chocolate is bad, but how much will make them a little sick and how much will kill them? I recommend you go to Pet MD’s website and check out their Toxicity Meter to get a good idea of why we warn owners about chocolate so much.

Only a few ounces of dark or bakers chocolate can take out a small dog.

If your pet gets into chocolate, please don’t wait to see if they become ill. Sometimes that’s far too late and lasting damage has already done. If we can catch it quick and induce vomiting to get the chocolate out of their systems before it has time to digest. This will save from current illness as well as possible future disease.

#2 Xylitol Danger = No Sweets!

In an age where we are becoming increasingly more health conscious, xylitol and other sugar substitutes are starting to be added to our foods. Xylitol is sugar alcohol so it’s sweet, but it is lower in calories than sugar and doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, which can be great news for humans, but our pets can not break it down like we do and the Xylitol hits their bloodstreams much quicker triggering the pancreas to release excessive amounts of insulin to counter it. This can put your pet into a hypoglycemic attack and possibly cause seizures and death. Ack! More information on the dangers of Xylitol can be found at the FDA’s website. Unlike chocolate your veterinarian does not have a handy chart to say how much is too much so we always recommend a trip to the Emergency Center to get it out of your pets system as soon as possible. You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline. They can give you fast information and work with your local ER for proper treatments.

Please remember this next time we recommend for you to hide your pets medication in peanut butter and check to make sure there is no xylitol in your peanut butter!

Peanut butter is one of the biggest points of contention with xylitol because everyone was already used to letting their pet have a bit of peanut butter sometimes. When xylitol started being added for our health… trouble started.

Why is this warning in the Christmas section? Well, because some candy and candy canes now contain xylitol. We’ve already received calls on dog eating batches of candy canes. In the past this was generally a sugar high-crash followed by bad upset stomach to be managed. Now… It can be a much more serious thing. Keep candy canes and other sweet things far away from you pets.

#3 Poinsettias

Because this is a well known Christmas toxin to pets, I’m always surprised when someone doesn’t know and leaves a beautiful hot-house plant out to warm a chilly day to be absolutely mauled by their dog. 
There are fake versions of this you can get but the best rule of thumb is no plants in your house that are pet accessible. Keep all of your plants safely out of reach. Your hospital staff knows a lot about the main culprits, but botanists we are not. Call Pet Poison Control if your pet eats any plants. The sooner we can treat, the better lasting prognosis we can provide.


#4 Holly and Mistletoe

Holly and mistletoe aren’t your friends either, especially not their berries. They are actually more toxic to our pets than poinsettias! They can cause a sharp drop in blood pressure, trouble breathing and seizures.

Any troubles with breathing is always an emergency. Be ready. Keep your veterinarians number somewhere easy to get to as well as ER care numbers in your area. Go fake with these plants or go without. It really isn’t worth the risk. Even fake plants can cause blockages if eaten, so always keep these out of your pets reach.

It’s always a good idea to to a quick google search on any plant you bring in your house to make sure it is safe for pets and people so you know what precautions are in order. The ASPCA also has an online Poisonous Plants database for you to look thorough.

#5 Leftovers and Other Human Foods

I know it’s tempting. Especially when they are just staring at you, begging with their eyes for just a tiny bit mom?… just a little? Pretty please???

Stay strong. Grapes, some nuts, high fatty foods, garlic, onions… the list goes on and on and none of them are good for your fur friend. Even seasoned turkey can land your pet in a world of suffering. Be ready with alternatives that are not dangerous. Don’t let your guests feed your pets. Have pet treats, or just normal pet food ready to go in case those sad eyes get to you. Or better yet, take a break from the crowd to spend just a few minutes with your pet. I bet that’s what they really want. Just some undivided attention. Here I am. Please pet me!

#6 Snow Globes

Wait… what? Snow globes?

Yes. Snow globes made my list. Maybe it’s a mom thing but I know all about things dropping, shattering and overall mess making that is just part of having kids, pets, relatives or parities in your house. These things happen.

Snow globes are gorgeous things, I have quite a few of them in my collection, but they can contain antifreeze besides being shattered glass shards all over your floor.

Make sure these provide their magic from a safe shelf, away from jumping cats and boisterous dogs. Antifreeze is a horrible toxin. Keep it away from your pet. Lacerations aren’t any more fun.

#7 Yeast Dough

This is an emergency. Call your vet or pet emergency center. It can cause bloating, or worse – gastric torsion in big chested dogs. Not familiar with gastric torsion. Well good. Don’t change that. It’s a bloat gone so wrong the stomach rolls over, twisting off the entrance and exists to the stomach. No pets in the kitchen is an excellent rule of thumb. Rising dough must be out of reach at all times.

# 8 Caffeine and Alcohol

Very few human drinks are good for pets. Most aren’t even good for humans! Just say no to sharing. Watch unattended glasses at parties and family gatherings and refrain from sharing.

Make sure your pet always has access to fresh, clean water and forget the rest.


#9 Salt Dough Ornaments

Home made ornaments were one of the first crafts I ever did with my children. My funny shaped, oddly painted salt dough ornaments are some of my very favorite ornaments. Salt is the main ingredient and salt is well liked by our pets, but in this compact amount, it truly is deadly. Restrict access to these and call emergency if ingested.

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