Deck the halls with baked goods and floral – fa la la la la, oh no no no!!!

By: Bryanna K.

It’s December! Time to break out the lights, decorations and floral arrangements to fill your home with holiday cheer! While decorating your home to look like a winter wonderland helps spark the holiday spirit, here is a list of items you might think twice before hanging around Fluffy and Fido.

Toxic Holiday Plants: did you know that many of those beautiful floral Christmas decorations and center pieces in your home are not only harmful but toxic to your pet?

Poinsettia: During Christmas time this plant is a popular gift, despite a bad rap regarding its extreme toxicity, this is actually NOT TRUE, this plant is only mildly toxic.  The sap of a poinsettias leaves/peddles is mildly toxic/irritating and can cause nausea, drooling and vomiting, however it is not fatal. This being said, medical treatment is rarely necessary unless clinic signs are severe.

Holly and Mistletoe:  These plants, along with their berries, have a greater toxicity level than the poinsettia and should be kept either out of your house or out of reach or your pets. If ingested, it can cause intestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling and abdominal pain. Mistletoe is well known to cause severe intestinal upset and even a sudden severe drop in blood pressure, breathing problems, and even hallucinations (unusual behavior). In large ingestion cases symptoms may even include seizures and death.

Lilies/Daffodils: Plants in the lily family have a well-documented history of being extremely toxic to both cats and dogs. If ingested symptoms can include GI distress, cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms), kidney failure, convulsions/seizures and even death. The bulbs of the plant are the most toxic but a veterinarian should be consulted immediately if any part of the plant has been ingested by your pet.

Pine Trees/fertilizers: Sorry to break it to you but even your Christmas tree may be a reason to worry; ingestion of the trees oils or sap can irritate the mouth and stomach causing excessive drooling or even vomiting. The trees pine needles are also not easy to digest, which can lead to severe IG issues such as vomiting, gastrointestinal obstruction or even intestinal or stomach punctures. Secondly, many people use Tree Preservatives typically contain some kind of fertilizer, sugar and perhaps fungicides, there chemicals are extremely toxic to cats and dogs if ingested.

Baked goods are a key part of Christmas celebrations, however many of the ingredients we use are extremely toxic, even possibly fatal to our furry companions.

Sugars/Caffeine: Candy, gum, toothpaste and baked goods can be sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol can cause your animal’s blood sugar to drop and can also cause liver failure. Dogs and cats are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine/sugar than people. Ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds, tea bags or 1-2 diet pills can easily cause death in small dogs or cats. Clinical signs of ingestion are hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, an elevated heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), seizures, collapse and death may be seen. If you believe your pet has ingested something containing Xylitol/caffeine, please contact poison control and your veterinarian immediately.

Chocolate: Chocolate poisoning (theobromine) is a serious and potentially fatal issue that many pet owners are faced with during the holidays. The key thing to remember about chocolate poisoning is the darker the chocolate (baking or gourmet dark chocolate) the more toxic it is! Signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, panting/restlessness and in severe cases muscle tremors, seizures and even heart failure. Even though symptoms may take several hours to present it is of the essence that a veterinarian be contacted immediately if you believe you pet has ingested chocolate.

Nuts (Almonds, Walnuts, Macadamia, Pecans, Pistachios) : While some of these nuts listed are not actually toxic they are not easily digested by animal and can cause upset stomach and gastric intestinal distress. Walnuts contain a toxin named Tremorgenic Mycotoxin which can cause neurological symptoms that can include seizures, Macadamia Nuts contain and unknown toxin that may results in neurological symptoms as well. If these are ingested a veterinarian should be contacted immediately.

If you believe your pet has ingested any kind of toxin please contact Animal Poison Control Help line and your veterinarian immediately! Helpful links below for more information.  Mele Kalikmaka a me ka Hauoli Makahiki Hou!