By Deb Young
The winter season brings many occasions to celebrate and enjoy the snowy
However, it is also a time for heightened pet safety with the introduction
of seasonal plants, foods and cold weather products.
Various forms including baking chocolate Chocolate contains caffeine-like
substances, and in some forms, a high amount of fat as well. Depending on
the amount ingested, chocolate can potentially cause vomiting, increased
thirst and urination, diarrhea, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate and
seizures – and can even be lethal in large enough doses.
Preservative for the tree may contain fertilizers, which, if ingested, can
upset the stomach. Stagnant tree water can be breeding grounds for bacteria,
which can also lead to vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
While decorations aren’t directly toxic, ribbon and tinsel can cause
gastrointestinal blockage that can be life-threatening to pets. Ornaments
can be broken or swallowed whole.
Holly, Mistletoe, Lilies and Poinsettia can be particularly harmful to your
pet. Eating Holly could produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. If
a dog or cat eats Mistletoe, gastrointestinal upset and possibly even
cardiovascular problems could result.
Pets should not be given holiday leftovers and garbage should be kept in an
area inaccessible to animals. Poultry bones can splinter and cause damage or
blockage in the gastrointestinal tract. Spicy or fatty foods can cause
stomach upset and could possibly lead to inflammation of the pancreas.
Additionally, moldy or spoiled foods could produce food poisoning, tremors
Ingestions of grapes and raisins have been associated with acute kidney
failure in dogs. Some dogs initially develop vomiting and begin drinking
large amounts of water, then subsequently develop diarrhea and
life-threatening kidney failure.
Antifreeze products containing ethylene glycol are highly toxic and can
produce life-threatening kidney damage, even in small amounts. For example,
just one tablespoon of 50-50 diluted antifreeze can be lethal to a 10-pound
cat, and as little as 4 ounces in a 20-pound dog could be fatal. Many
windshield washer products contain methanol, which if ingested can cause
drooling, vomiting, drunkenness and severe central nervous system
depression. Ice melt products may contain ingredients that can be very
irritating to the skin and gastrointestinal tract, and could also
potentially result in more severe effects including depression, weakness,
disorientation, low blood pressure, cardiac problems, seizures, coma and
even death depending on the type of ice melt and circumstances of exposure.
A few more things to remember:
Keep your pets warm and indoors. As always cats should stay inside. Since
cats left outdoors may stay warm in car wheel wells or under hoods, you
should awake any sleeping animals by rapping on your car hood before
starting the engine.
Trips outside should remain short during the winter months. While dogs need
outdoor exercise, lengthy walks can prove harmful especially when wind chill
is a factor.
Dogs should remain leashed and supervised when outdoors throughout the year.
However in the winter do not bring them near bodies of water even if they
Shorthaired dogs and clipped breeds should be dressed in protective
Wipe off your dog’s foot pads and stomach fur after returning from the
Outdoor shelters for pets should be dry, secure from wind and only large
enough for them to stand up, turn around and lie down. The shelter floor
should also be elevated from ground level and have dry bedding. A steady
water supply should be provided in plastic bowls and checked on so that it
does not freeze.
Pets that spend a greater amount of time outdoors also require more food.
Keeping the family pet safe during the holidays is simple if you plan ahead.