Pets and Christmas hazards

Winter in Alberta is generally a good time for pets’ health, as there are fewer accidents, poisonings, and injuries.  The exception to that is Christmas time.  Every Yuletide season there is an increase in number of intestinal surgeries for removal of ribbons or tinsel from cats’ intestines.  Tinsel, ribbons, and string are all very tempting for cats to play with, chew, and sometimes swallow.  These linear foreign bodies can cut through the intestines, resulting in death.  Please prevent your cat from access to such playthings. 


We see similar problems in dogs, but less so.  In dogs a problem often seen around Christmas is chocolate toxicity.  Did you know that chocolate is toxic?  For humans the most toxic thing about chocolate is often the way it tends to accumulate around the waist.  But every year there are reports of dogs becoming ill after eating chocolate, and deaths from such poisoning have been reported as well.  A small dog could die from eating only one ounce chocolate baking square!  Most of the time the amount of chocolate consumed results only in diarrhea and vomiting but seizures, muscle weakness, dehydration and abdominal pain can also occur.  There is no specific antidote for chocolate poisoning, so prevention as always is the best.  If your dog does get into the chocolate supply, an immediate trip to the veterinary clinic is in order, where treatment to induce vomiting and prevent absorption of poison from the intestines will likely be given.


Leftovers from Christmas meals are also potentially devastating for both dogs and cats.  Bones in general are dangerous to feed, but chicken and turkey bones are especially hazardous, as they are likely to splinter while being chewed.  That can lead to at least stomach and intestinal irritation – more serious peritonitis can result from bone fragments penetrating the intestinal wall –that can be deadly.  Even relatively benign leftovers like pudding or gravy can cause problems as mild as vomiting but as severe as pancreatitis.  To be on the safe side, don’t feed table scraps at all. Preventing problems is always better than curing them.   If you decide to anyway, feed only small amounts of foods generally considered to be healthy for people (fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole wheat bread, pasta, rice, etc.).


From all of us here at Park Veterinary Centre we wish each of you and your pet(s) a wonderful, healthy and happy Christmas season.  Peace be upon each of you, and goodwill to every one of God’s creatures.