Keeping our family safe is among one of the highest priorities as a parent. Most families also include pets, and during the holiday season, they can be put at risk for serious injury with certain plants and foods.
You might already know that the American Association of Poison Control Centers can offer you free, confidential medical advice 24/7/365 in more than 150 different languages. Did you also know that they can assist you if you know or suspect that your “fur baby” has been exposed to dangerous food, plants or chemicals?
It is important to be aware of some common potential holiday dangers for pets:
- Lilies, Amaryllis, Mistletoe, Poinsettias and Holly can be dangerous if eaten, and should be kept away from pets and possibly out of the home entirely. If you suspect your pet has eaten one of these plants, call your veterinarian or Poison Control Hotline right away! They can advise you on what symptoms to look out for, and what treatment might be necessary to keep your animal healthy.
- Christmas tree water can be harmful when ingested if it contains bacteria, mold or fertilizer.
- If tinsel or ribbon is eaten, it can become tangled in your pets intestines and potentially cause an obstruction. This most commonly occurs with cats.
- Glass ornaments, especially if they are shaped like food or pet familiar treats, can cause cuts and bleeding to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract if eaten.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends keeping your pet from ingesting “people” food containing the following ingredients:
- Xylitol-containing products (xylitol is an artificial sweetener often found in sugar-free candy and gum)
- Chocolate (although some types of chocolate are not as toxic as others, it’s safer to keep your pet away from all types of chocolate)
- Grapes and raisins
- Fatty and fried foods
- Macadamia nuts
In an emergency situation, it is always best to be prepared. Make sure to keep handy the phone number to your veterinarian, the closest emergency Animal Hospital (recommended by your vet) and the National Poison Control number (1-800-222-1222). If you don’t have one already, organize a dedicated “Pet First Aid Kit” for your home. The Humane Society has put together a suggested list of items to keep on hand here. They also suggest discussing with your veterinarian any other items they would recommend specific to your pet(s).
—Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System