Health

Keep the Paws off the Christmas Goodies

Holiday sweets aren't treats for our four-legged pals — and watch the decorations, too

Julie VanGoethem Lund of Madison, Wisconsin, recognizes good luck when she sees it.

Her dog “ate an entire tray of cookies last weekend, but didn’t get sick,” she said. That’s the good news — he escaped serious harm or illness from those antics. The bad news is that “he is now a dedicated, unstoppable counter surfer” — so she’s got to be careful.

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As edible gifts are exchanged and home goods are baked in this season of joy, pet owners need to keep an eye on their four-legged friends. Many treats delicious to us could be deadly or dangerous to animals — and no one wants any heartache or unnecessary vet bills.

These smart reminders about holiday dangers from Consumer Affairs and Petplan will help:

Fruitcake 
Fruitcake (and Panettone) contain currants, raisins, and nuts: Any of these ingredients can make pets sick. The cakes are often soaked in liquor, too — you’d have one sick animal indeed.

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Boxed Chocolates
In the event you receive this, understand these delicious treats are dangerous to dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine, and can cause liver failure, bleeding, and death to canines.

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Coffee and Hot Chocolate
Mugs filled with goodies are a common gift. Keep any coffee beans, grounds, or powders safely away from pets. The caffeine can cause hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, seizures, or even death.

Bows and ribbons, tree decorations, and light strings, by the way, are also worth keeping an eye on, as they can cause serious stomach or intestinal damage. Vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and lethargy could be warning signs. Bath products can also cause big problems for our animals, especially anything that contains magnesium sulfate — epsom salts can kill or permanently injure pets if swallowed.

Related: Older Pets Make Great Gifts

Poinsettias, Holly, Mistletoe
These three can make your pet sick, according to the National Animal Poison Control Center. Chemicals in mistletoe can cause low blood pressure and a slowed heart rate. Holly can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and decreased activity in both cats and dogs. As for poinsettias, the milky white sap can irritate your pet’s mouth and stomach, causing vomiting and diarrhea.

Christmas lilies can cause kidney failure in cats, according to Petplan.

So keep the desserts and the decorations safely away from pets. They deserve a Merry Christmas, too.

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