Around this time of year, some dangerous circumstances present themselves for our pets. A little awareness can go a long way to preventing an emergency visit to the vet, or even worse, a tragic loss.
Everyone knows that chocolate is dangerous to dogs. But its not the sugar in the chocolate, but the caffeine and more so, the theobromine in the chocolate that poses the threat. Milk and white chocolate have far less theobromine, whereas dark chocolate, bakers chocolate and powdered cocoa have may times more. Truffles dusted in cocoa powder, boxes of dark chocolate candies, even packages of bakers chocolate abound this time of year, so please make sure to keep them safely out of your pet's reach.
Poinsettias, holly and real mistletoe are commonly associated with holiday danger for pets, but aren't as toxic as may be thought. I'm not suggesting you feed these to a pet, but they are mild toxins that may take a large ingestion to have ill effects. If your pet exhibits vomiting, drooling or diarrhea after a suspected ingestion, you will want to seek veterinary advice. But the risks are not as great as generally thought, and far less than chocolate.
Other potentially dangerous items that pets often eat during the holidays include chicken and turkey bones. Raw, these are awesome food/treats for dogs and cats. Raw chicken/turkey necks, either frozen or thawed, are great dental treats for pets. But, once they are cooked, the bones become brittle and fracture, and can puncture the digestive tract or worse, get stuck. Make sure you dispose of these items carefully, in a way the pets can't get at this delicious garbage. Also, other trash, like wrappings, ribbons and bows that may be a fun toy to play with, but if ingested can cause problems.
When we break out the Christmas lights and powered ornaments, out come the extension cords. Any chewing pet, from rabbits up to dogs can get into trouble when these abound. I remember when DeeDee, our beloved Dachshund, discovered this peril. We came home one day to find her cowering under the bed, and explosive diarrhea nearby. She was shaking and afraid. We couldn't figure out what was wrong, until we noticed the alarm clock flashing 12:00. The microwave and VCR (yes, this was a while ago) showed the proper time, so it couldn't have been a power outage, so I inspected the power cord and found telltale bite marks. Luckily the jolt wasn't lethal, but any time in the future when we wanted to keep her out of something, all we needed to do was put an unplugged extension cord around it. She wasn't having any of that, after how badly she got "bit" by a cord before.
There are cord protectors, wraps and bitter tasting chew deterrents that can help protect against pets getting into trouble with cords. And running the cords where the animals can't easily get to them helps a lot too.
Just a few cautionary notes, reminders that might help spare some suffering on what should be our most festive season. Happy Holidays!