Common Pet Toxicities You Need to Know Before the Holidays

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As holiday season approaches, Off Leash Vets want to make sure you enjoy every one of those upcoming family gatherings, friendsgivings, and other season greetings. To keep our client’s well in-formed, and favorite buddies safe, we put our heads together and came up with six pet toxicities we’ve commonly seen in the emergency room that might take even the most informed pet-parents by surprise.

1. Chocolate

It’s time to throw out that old Halloween candy anyway. Chocolate contains two substances that are toxic to pets: theobromine and caffeine. The degree of toxicity depends not only on the amount of chocolate ingested but also the type. Baking cocoa, with it’s high cocoa percentage, is the most toxic, followed by dark chocolate. While milk chocolate is less toxic, it can still be dangerous in large quantities. Symptoms vary and range from gastrointestinal upset to abnormal heart rhythms.

2. Gum/Mints

Certain brands contain a synthetic sugar called xylitol. This artificial sweetener stimulates your pet’s pancreas to release insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar, resulting in severe hypoglycemia. Extreme drops in blood sugar can cause immediate weakness, tremors, and seizures with potential long- term effects on the liver. Make sure to keep all xylitol mints in closed pockets or drawers, and out of your pet’s reach.

3. Grapes and Rasins

Grapes/Raisins can have a disastrous effect on the kidneys. Ingestion of even small amount can cause acute renal failure, leading to vomiting, lethargy, and urination abnormalities. So take those bowls of trail mix off your side-tables, and watch your pets around the fruit salad.

4. Onions and Garlic

Onions in high doses can lead to the destruction of your pet’s red blood cells resulting in life threatening anemia. Cats are much more sensitive to onions than Dog’s. Clinical signs include pale or white gums, red tinged urine, lethargy, and gastrointestinal distress (vomiting and diarrhea). Keep your pet away from the kitchen when cooking those savory dishes, and make sure to never walk away with these ingredients out on the counter.

5. Antifreeze

Don’t be embarrassed if you haven’t used antifreeze since that “epic” high school snowstorm. Why would you living in NYC? But, beware when taking your pet home for the holidays, because antifreeze contains a chemical substance called ethylene glycol. When this substance is metabolized, it can be extremely toxic and can irreversible damage to the kidneys as well as cause neurological disease (seizures, depression, knuckling).

6. Chicken Bones

As much as we know you “try”, it’s hard to resist that adorable face begging for the delicious smelling chicken you just cooked. While chicken is technically not toxic, if your pet swallows a bone, you could be spending the night in the emergency room instead of enjoying the meal with your family. While bones are digestible if they reach the stomach, often times they can get trapped in the esophagus on the way down leading to gagging, excessive drooling, and regurgitation. This ultimately will require an emergency endoscopy procedure to dislodge the bone. Additionally, bones can still cause vomiting and diarrhea if they reach the stomach.

So just a reminder to keep a watchful eye on our little best friends during the holidays! If you are ever concerned or have questions about a potential pet toxicity, give us a call. We hope this information helps to keep these calls happy ones. Cheers!