October 21, 2018

Holiday Food Safety for Pets

Holiday decorations and food can pose dangers for pets. That’s why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published advice on keeping pets safe during the holidays.  Here are some of the recommendations.


Tinsel and sparkly ribbons are intriguing to some cats, but can cause serious problems if ingested. “Swallowed ribbons and string can get tangled in the stomach or intestines.  If they are not removed, the ribbons and string can saw through the lining of the stomach or intestines, causing a life-threatening infection,”  the FDA warns. Signs of trouble include, which could take hours or several days to develop include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and decreased activity.  Collect all the ribbons and strings when you gifts, and avoid using tinsel if you have a cat in the house. If your cat does get ahold of some decorations and swallows them, call your vet right away.


Poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe are toxic to animals. It’s best to avoid decorating with them if you have pets. If the plants must be in your house, keep them out of your pet’s reach and clean up any fallen leaves or berries quickly. Signs of poisoning include drooling, and sometimes, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased energy and lack of appetite.

Table scraps

Table scraps of rich foods can give your pet a painful serious condition called pancreatitis.  Common symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs include vomiting, stomach pain, restlessness, shaking, diarrhea, fever, and weakness.  For cats, symptoms are harder to notice, such as decreased appetite and weight loss.  Bones from chicken, turkey or steak can pierce the lining of your dog’s stomach and intestines or get lodged in them. Keep an eye on your dog, while your scrapping plates. And make sure he can’t get into the trash and help himself.

Chocolate and Xylitol,

Chocolate and Xylitola sugar-free sweetener, are both toxic to dogs.  With chocolate, the level of toxicity depends on how much your dog ate and how big he is. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, restlessness, hyperactivity, increased urination, muscle spasms, and seizures. Symptoms of poisoning from Xylitol include vomiting, decreased activity, weakness, staggering, incoordination, collapse, and seizures. Some dogs develop more severe complications, including liver failure, bleeding disorders, and death. Call your vet right away if your dog helps himself to chocolate or sweets made with Xylitol.

Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, weakness, decreased activity, difficulty breathing, and shaking in pets.  In severe cases, coma and death can occur.


If guests are visiting, remind them that your cat or dog may find their medications interesting. Do your best to keep your pets out of guest rooms  or areas where your guests may be staying and call your vet right away if your pet swallows and over the conter or prescription medication.

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