Dr. Dana Schaffer
Dr. Pam Wittenberg
Dr. Wendy Wallace
Seasons Animal Hospital
As the holidays approach,
with decorations, aromas and good food around, we would like to
take note of some hazards these may present to our furry friends…
Holiday decorations are everywhere
at this time of year, and are particularly attractive to our pets.
Tinsel, scented candles, Christmas lights and ornaments are among
the most common items ingested by animals. These can cause trauma
to the mouth (especially electrical cords!) or cause intestinal
Poinsettia, Mistletoe and
Holly are all more common around the holiday times than at other
times of the year. If ingested, these can cause intestinal problems
for dogs and cats, although generally the toxic effects of these
have been overstated. Poinsettia sap, holly berries and most parts
of mistletoe can cause direct irritation to the digestive system,
resulting in drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.
Treatment is based on the signs seen in the pet, and includes
fluid support, stomach protectants and anti-nausea medication.
Chocolate, Grapes & Raisins,
Macadamia Nuts and Bread Dough all present some potentially serious
hazards to our pets, especially for the dogs who carefully check
out the frenzy of baking activity that can occur!
Chocolate is a well-known stimulant toxin for dogs – the
darkness of the chocolate (% cocoa), the size of the dog, and
the amount consumed are all important factors in whether the dog
will develop signs of toxicity. The best combination would be
a couple of Hershey Kisses (milk chocolate) taken off the counter
by a Great Dane! However, we would definitely be worried if a
Maltese ate a full block of dark baking chocolate! The signs would
be similar to a caffeine overdose, since the active ingredient,
theobromine, is the same as in tea. Increase in heart rate and
body temperature, agitation, even muscle tremors and seizures
can occur within 4-6 hours after consumption.
Grapes and Raisins produce kidney disease in some dogs (not all)
– at this time, the active ingredient is unknown. Signs
would be non-specific and include lethargy, loss of appetite,
nausea and/or vomiting. Because there is no way to predict which
dog might be affected, it is best to contact your veterinarian
if you suspect some grapes or raisins are missing.
Macadamia Nuts produce a unique syndrome in dogs, and again, the
cause is unknown. Dogs can get sick within 12 hours – signs
are weakness, wobbliness, increase in body temperature, vomiting,
and pale mucous membranes. Dogs can return to normal with symptomatic
care in 48 hours or less.
Bread Dough ingestion produces an interesting combination of problems
– in addition to the discomfort of eating a large amount
of dough that expands, the warm environment of the stomach allows
for fermentation and release of ethanol. Ethanol toxicity is comparable
to anti-freeze poisoning, which causes kidney failure. Signs can
be seen between 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion. This would
definitely be considered an emergency.