Christmas Problems for Pets

Holiday season can be the best time of year for a pet! There are lots of their favorite people and a whole world of toys, but some can hurt and even kill your pet.


Poinsettias are very popular plants during the Christmas season. There is a common belief that the poinsettia is highly toxic, but this is not actually true. However, it is mildly irritating to the skin or stomach, and may sometimes cause diarrhea and vomiting. If your pet eats poinsettia, expect to treat diarrhea with GI Synbiotics and Kaopectate, but don’t expect any lasting issues.


Turkey and chicken bones fracture when chewed, which makes them great at puncturing the intestine. This causes pain and infection can escape the intestine into the abdomen. Dogs will require surgery and a long-term antibiotic, and many die from the resulting infection that happens. At the very least, your pet will have pain and scar tissue. Feel free to give meat bites as treats, but keep the bones away from your pets!


Candy in moderation is okay, but a Yorkie with one small piece of candy is the same as humans eating a whole bag - it's a lot of sugar! Be cautious - candy can cause issues with pancreatitis and diabetes. Chocolate is also toxic to pets and can even be fatal. With Theobromine and Caffeine, it can take days to detoxify in animals, if at all. Dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are the most toxic, while white chocolate has such small amounts of Theobromine that toxicity is doubtful. However, it's best to stay away from candy completely.


Wrapping is a great non-toxic toy, but use caution with ribbon and string! These will stretch throughout the intestine and cut through the lining with every corner they turn. These slices are difficult to locate and nearly impossible to seal. Most cases will result in a long-term antibiotic and long-term recovery, and pets can die from the effects on the intestine.


Sidewalks with salt or even worse, chemical snow melt, can cause foot irritation and cracking. Pets will also lick it from their paws, which causes mouth burns and GI upset. You should melt ice with salt, not chemical ice melts. Wash their feet off and use a topical pad ointment when you see the problem.


Holiday travel is easier if you take your pet’s bed or kennel with you. Once you've arrived, taking them for a short walk around the area and showing them where the bed is set up can ease the anxiety of both your host and your pet. You should also kennel them when you are gone. More than once I have treated dogs for consuming large amounts of chocolate when the owners were attending Christmas services.


Using calming agents can also help pets during the extra activity. Doc Roy's Docile Dog is naturally formulated to calm the anxious dog. Double the dose for two days, then give them the normal dose until December 26. Calming products help you avoid tranquilizing your pet, but they also help maintain your pet's normal behavior.

With a little prevention, you can keep your Christmas season a merry one. From all of us at Revival – God bless your time with your family and four-legged friends!

If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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