Everyone’s telling you about the holiday dangers to dogs, especially this time of year. However, many of the articles and blog posts we are seeing don’t include some of the more surprising and less talked about holiday dangers to dogs.
The folks at Pet Poison Helpline are alerting dog parents to keep a close eye on these dangers, as they might just sneak up and surprise you with an emergency room visit for your dog or worse.
Poinsettias plants seem to be the ones many websites focus on, but Japanese Yew is more toxic, dangerous, and even lethal. Japanese Yew is an evergreen shrub that many veterinary clinics call “the tree of death.” It looks innocuously harmless, but it is most toxic in the winter and the dried plant retains toxins. Here is a screen shot from a recent webinar we took so you know what it looks like:
Clinical signs of Japanese Yew poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heart rate changes, trembling, and even sudden death. If you suspect your dog ingested any part of Japanese Yew, do not wait: Seek emergency care immediately, as every second counts.
The canine minimum lethal dose is 2.3g leaves/kg. That means very little can cause huge problems.
But what about poinsettia, mistletoe, Christmas cactus plants, and holly? Yes, they can cause issues but the Japanese Yew is the deadly one. Keep all of these plants away from dogs. Problem solved.
Homemade Ornaments and Christmas Cookies
Salt is very dangerous to dogs. This time of year, folks are engaged in homemade cookie making, kids are doing their play thing with Play Doh, and homemade ornaments are popular. These all contain salt and salt is dangerous to dogs. Here’s an example from Pet Poison Helpline:
TIP: You just don’t want to resist those pleading eyes when your dog stares at you as you eat a delicious Christmas cookie. Save the danger and keep some of Fido’s favorite treats with you. When you take a bite, give the dog a piece of his doggie treat. I break my dog’s treats up into pieces.
Grandma’s Bag of Medications
Of all the phone calls and emergency visits to the vet received over the holidays, accidental ingestion of human medications is high atop the list. Family and friends who visit may bring their medications with them in a baggie or tote. Keep this out of Fido’s reach, please.
If there is accidental ingestion, get to the emergency vet, and en route call have someone do this:
- Call the pharmacy where the meds were filled;
- Check for any pill codes;
- Ask the family member what the medications are used for;
- Call the physician to find out any further info;
The staff at the emergency clinic will need to know what was taken, how much, and what it is used for. Take pill bottles with you if at all possible.
All those games and toys need batteries, and wrapped batteries are even more tempting to dogs, especially if said dog likes to open gifts.
There are two primary types of household batteries: alkaline dry cells and lithium.
“Lithium disc batteries are noncorrosive, but far more dangerous than alkaline dry cells when lodged in the esophagus,” says Lynn R. Hovda, RPh, DVM, MS, DACVIM. “Other potential hazards include choking or aspirating a disc battery and a foreign body obstruction. Many of the hearing aid batteries are so tiny that inhalation is an unusual, but distinct possibility. Foreign body obstructions can occur anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract if ingested battery pieces or casings become lodged. Most batteries or pieces that haven’t passed through the pylorus in 24-48 hours aren’t going to move any farther.”
Keep all batteries out of reach of a dog. That means keep the device that contains the battery out of Fido’s reach. If your dog is a jumper, keep the counters and tables free of all of the above thus far in this article.
CLICK THIS: Household Battery Toxicity in Dogs
Sugar Free Substitute: XYLITOL!
Xylitol is a popular sugar substitute, and unfortunately, is toxic to dogs.
What can you do as a pet parent to prevent Xylitol poisoning in your dog?
- Read labels carefully. Anything sugar-free should be avoided.
- Check if Xylitol is contained in any products you purchase. Keep them from your dog’s path, access, or counter surfing.
- Companies are not warning pet parents, for the most part, that Xylitol can be fatal to dogs. Ask questions.
- If you must purchase items containing Xylitol, hide them far from a dog’s reach. In our household, we rarely if ever, purchase Xylitol-containing items.
CLICK THIS: Dog Mom Warns of Xylitol Poisoning (it happened to her dog)
BONUS DANGER: New Year’s Eve
As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a dog’s intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. Many dog are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches. Special thanks to ASPCA for alerting pet parents of these dangers.
More Doggie Dangers
Of course, these are but 5 of the many dangers to dogs this time of year and beyond. There are many more holiday and year round dangers to dogs: