Skip to main content
Human Animal BondUncategorized

Holiday Plants and Foods to Avoid

By December 7, 2018 June 20th, 2023 No Comments
It’s  that time of year again. As our thoughts turn to decorating and party planning, according to the Pet Poison Helpline here are some common plants and foods that could make your pets sick … or worse. If you think your pet has eaten something harmful call us immediately.
Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are actually low in toxicity compared to some other holiday plants. Ingestion may result in vomiting, drooling and sometimes diarrhea. Poinsettia poisoning doesn’t usually require medical treatment and there is no antidote. Complications can arise from dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and other issues.
Often used in flower arrangements, lilies can be dangerous to dogs and cats. Just one or two bites of a lily can cause acute kidney failure in cats. Amaryllis is popular during the holidays with the bulb being more toxic than the leaves. Some species of lily are more dangerous than others and can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, loss of appetite, tremors and more.
Holly leaves and berries can be toxic. Ingestion could lead to drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. Pets can lip smack and head shake from the spiny leaves.
Fortunately, mistletoe is usually placed high out of our pets’ reach but if ingested can be toxic depending on the variety. Symptoms run the gamut from mild intestinal discomfort to abnormal heart rate, collapse, hypotension, ataxia, seizures and even death.
Christmas Trees
Christmas trees can be irresistible to curious dogs and cats. Ingestion of needles can irritate the mouth and stomach resulting in drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. Depending on the amount ingested, there is the possibility of obstruction or perforation requiring surgical intervention as pine needles do not digest well.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
It is tempting to share holiday foods with our pets but beware that some foods can cause serious problems.
Fatty, Salty Foods
It is wise to avoid fatty foods like turkey drippings and skin, butter and gravy which could lead to pancreatitis. Turkey brine is very appealing to pets but the amount of salt can lead to toxicosis. Discarded food items like bones and corn cobs can potentially lead to injuries requiring surgery. Be sure to dispose of all food items safely.
Xylitol, an artificial sweetener present in many foods, is extremely toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. Cats do not seem to be sensitive to xylitol but caution is still advised. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include weakness, lethargy, depression, vomiting, trembling, collapse, seizures and possibly death.  Many food items promoting less sugar, like peanut butter, candy, gum, diabetic foods and baked goods often use xylitol in place of sugar. Read all labels carefully.
Chocolate contains theobromine which is metabolized much more slowly in pets than humans. This is why even a small amount of chocolate can be very bad for pets. Chocolate contains different amounts of theobromine depending on the cocoa content with dark or cooking chocolate containing the highest level and white chocolate the least. Signs of toxicity are usually seen within two to four hours of ingestion and include vomiting and diarrhea, some of which can be severe. Restlessness, panting, muscle stiffness, uncoordinated movement, increased or irregular heart rate, seizures and in severe cases loss of consciousness can also occur. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate call us immediately.
Grapes, Raisins, Nuts and Fruitcake
Grapes and raisins, even in small amounts, can be fatally toxic to pets causing kidney damage potentially leading to kidney failure. Some nuts, like macadamia nuts or black walnuts, can be toxic causing vomiting, weakness, staggering gait, depression and tremors. Chocolate covered nuts present a double whammy. Fruitcake is usually loaded with raisins and nuts and can have the added danger of alcohol.
Capitaland Animal Hospital wants your pets to be safe during the holiday season. Awareness is the best prevention. We recommend keeping to your pets’ normal diet during the holidays. Even small handouts can result in intestinal issues. Be aware of foods and plants with potential risks and keep them out of reach. If you suspect your pet may have ingested something poisonous call us immediately. Keeping your pets safe and healthy during the holidays is our first priority.
Happy Holidays!

Leave a Reply