Pet Safety Tips

Holiday Tips

Holiday Pet Safety and Cold Weather Tips

The winter season brings many occasions to celebrate and enjoy the snowy weather. However, it is also a time for heightened pet safety with the introduction of seasonal plants, foods and cold weather products. Below are several items to keep out of your pet's reach as well as several cold weather tips since winter temperatures can plummet hourly and pets should be kept safe from the effects of these frigid conditions. Click here to download and print out a copy of Holiday Tips.

Various forms of chocolate, including baking chocolate, contain caffeine-like substances, and in some forms, a high amount of fat as well. Depending on the amount ingested, chocolate can potentially cause vomiting, increased thirst and urination, diarrhea, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate and seizures - and can even be lethal in large enough doses. Clinical effects can be seen with the ingestion of as little as 1/4 ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog.

Christmas Tree Preservative/Water
Preservative may contain fertilizers, which, if ingested, can upset the stomach. Stagnant tree water can be breeding grounds for bacteria, which can also lead to vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.

Ornaments, Ribbons, and Tinsel
While none of these is directly toxic, ribbon and tinsel can cause gastrointestinal blockage that can be life-threatening to pets. Ornaments can be broken or swallowed whole.

Holiday Plants
Holly, mistletoe, lilies, and poinsettia can be particularly harmful to your pet. Eating holly could produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. If a dog or cat eats mistletoe, gastrointestinal upset and possibly even cardiovascular problems could result. All parts of lilies (both Lilium and Hemerocallis species) are highly toxic to cats, with the potential to produce life-threatening kidney failure even from small ingestions. While the toxic potential of poinsettia has been exaggerated, mild stomach upset could still occur if ingested. Therefore, all of these plants should be kept out of your pet's reach.

Yeast Dough
If swallowed, uncooked yeast dough can rise in the stomach and cause extreme discomfort. Pets who have eaten bread dough may experience abdominal pain, bloat, vomiting, disorientation and depression. Since a breakdown product of rising dough is alcohol, it can also potentially cause alcohol poisoning. Many yeast ingestions require surgical removal of the dough, and even small amounts can be dangerous.

Table Foods, Moldy Foodsm and Poultry Bones
Pets should not be given holiday leftovers and garbage should be kept in an area inaccessible to animals. Poultry bones can splinter and cause damage or blockage in the gastrointestinal tract. Spicy or fatty foods can cause stomach upset and could possibly lead to inflammation of the pancreas. Additionally, moldy or spoiled foods could produce food poisoning, tremors, or seizures.

Macadamia Nuts
In dogs, ingestion can produce vomiting, weakness (particularly in the hind legs), depression, lack of coordination, and tremors.

Candy, Gum, and Wrappers
Candy, gum or other sweets containing large amounts of the sweetener xylitol can produce a sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, lack of coordination, and even seizures. Candy wrappers can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to an intestinal blockage.

Alcoholic Beverages
Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended or where pets can reach them. If ingested, alcohol can potentially result in vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, acidosis, coma, and even death.

Grapes and Raisins
Ingestions of grapes and raisins have been associated with acute kidney failure in dogs. Some dogs initially develop vomiting and begin drinking large amounts of water, then subsequently develop diarrhea and life-threatening kidney failure.

Toys and Batteries
Small toys and batteries can cause choking and gastrointestinal obstruction. Corrosives within batteries can produce oral and gastrointestinal ulcers.

Coffee and Coffee Grounds
All forms of coffee can produce the same effects as chocolate, depending on the dose.

Human Medications
Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills are common examples of human medication that could be potentially lethal even in small doses. One regular-strength ibuprofen tablet (200mg) can cause stomach ulcers in a 10-pound dog, and one extra-strength acetaminophen tablet can be lethal to an adult cat.

Antifreeze and Windshield Washer Fluid
Antifreeze products containing ethylene glycol are highly toxic and can produce life-threatening kidney damage, even in small amounts. For example, just one tablespoon of 50-50 diluted antifreeze can be lethal to a 10-pound cat, and as little as 4 ounces in a 20-pound dog could be fatal.  Many windshield washer products contain methanol, which if ingested can cause drooling, vomiting, drunkenness, and severe central nervous system depression. While methanol can cause blindness in humans, it does not appear to have this effect in cats and dogs.

Ice Melts
Ice melt products may contain ingredients that can be very irritating to the skin and gastrointestinal tract, and could also potentially result in more severe effects including depression, weakness, disorientation, low blood pressure, cardiac problems, seizures, coma, and even death depending on the type of ice melt and circumstances of exposure.

Depending on the type of rodenticide, if ingested potentially serious or even life-threatening problems can result, such as bleeding, seizures, or damage to the kidneys and other vital organs.  Therefore, when using any rodenticide it is important to place the product in areas that are completely inaccessible to companion animals.

Also remember to follow these tips:

-Keep your pets warm and indoors. As always cats should stay inside. Since cats left outdoors may stay warm in car wheel wells or under hoods, you should awake any sleeping animals by rapping on your car hood before starting the engine.

-Trips outside should remain short during the winter months. While dogs need outdoor exercise, lengthy walks can prove harmful especially when wind chill is a factor.

-Dogs should remain leashed and supervised when outdoors throughout the year. However in the winter do not bring them near bodies of water even if they appear frozen.

-Shorthaired dogs such as Greyhounds, Beagles, Chihuahuas, and clipped breeds should be dressed in protective clothing.

-Wipe off your dog’s foot pads and stomach fur after returning from the outdoors.

-Outdoor shelters for pets should be dry, secure from wind, and only large enough for them to stand up, turn around and lie down. The shelter floor should also be elevated from ground level and have dry bedding. A steady water supply should be provided in plastic bowls and checked on so that it does not freeze.

-Pets who spend a greater amount of time outdoors also require more food.

Call the Angell Poison Control Hotline at 1-877-2ANGELL in an emergency.