The holidays are a time of celebration and with that comes decorations, festive parties and decadent food. While these traditions pose a minimal danger to humans, there are many dangers for our furry friends during the holidays. Here are some tips to help keep your animals safe this holiday season.
#1 – Forbidden Festive Foods
The following is a list of foods that are toxic to household pets:
- Candy Canes
- Raisins and currents
- Holly Leaves and Berries
- Leftover Bones
Although not a food, the artificial sweetener xylitol is found in so many products from candy to soft drinks. Although safe for human consumption as a sugar substitute or sometimes referred to as a sweet enhancer, it is NOT safe for your companion canine or ferret. So far, cats have not shown the same response to xylitol consumption. Human metabolism of this sugar alcohol is quite different than that of your dog or ferret.
The harm done by something as simple as xylitol is a due to the release of insulin from the pancreas leading to a rapid uptake of blood sugar (glucose) into tissues and organs such as the liver, muscle and fat cells. This sudden uptake of glucose causes a sudden hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which compounds the liver toxicity and liver damage. As little as a xylitol containing cookie or cupcake can be enough to be fatal to an animal. In fact ingesting as little as 0.5gm of xylitol per kg of body weight increases the risk for liver toxicity. As little as 0.1gm of xylitol per kg of animal body weight can lead to the rapid hypoglycemia in 30 to 60 minutes. If you suspect that your dog has consumed xylitol in any form and displays sudden symptoms of lethargy (drowsy, listless, no energy), weakness or trouble walking contact your veterinarian or transport the animal to a local veterinary emergency care center. It is important that emergency care be provided within 30 min to 45 min of ingestion to prevent organ damage.
#2 – Decoration Dangers
- Ensure your tree is stable and secure so that your pet cannot knock it over while you are away from home
- Glass ornaments can become dangerous to animal paws if they fall off of the tree and shatter. Consider using plastic ornaments if you have pets.
- Ensure that electrical cords (from Christmas lights) are kept out of your pets reach while you are out and about
#3 – Salt
- 5,000,000 tonnes of salt is used each year on roads to keep them free from ice. Be sure to wipe your pets paws off when you come in from outside to avoid salt burns and cuts.
Make this a time for family, friends and of course your furry friends but keep them safe by taking a few sensible precautions.