Paw prints: Holiday hazards

Community Columnist

This festive time of year may be enjoyable for us, but for our pets it can be quite dangerous. Every year, we at the Cazenovia Animal Hospital see a number of animals that ingest something that makes them sick, and in some cases very seriously. Below is a list of common holiday items that may put our pets at risk. By planning ahead and being aware of these dangers, you can create a safe household for your pet during the holiday.


An ingredient in chocolate called theobromine, a chemical similar to caffeine, can be highly toxic to dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. Products such as baker’s chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate or dark chocolate can cause serious problems for our pets, even in very small amounts.

Tinsel or ribbons

Sparkling string can be an irresistible play toy for a cat, but it can become deadly if swallowed. These string-like materials are not toxic, but can cause a linear foreign body obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract. As the intestines contract to move the material through, the string can slowly saw through the intestine resulting in severe damage. When this occurs, emergency surgery may be required.

If you can see a piece of string lodged beneath your cats tongue or coming from the anus, do not pull it! Doing so can result in more tissue damage. Call our office immediately for further instruction.

Holiday plants

Curious pets often snack on plants, and while most are harmless, some may be toxic. During the holiday season the plants that tend to cause the most concern are poinsettia, holly, mistletoe and lilies. Of these, the lily is the most concerning if nibbled on. Cats that ingest even a small amount of the lily plant need immediate medical attention as fatal kidney failure can quickly develop. The milky sap within the poinsettia can be quite irritating, but is not a fatally toxic plant. Exposure can cause irritation to the skin and mouth, and if swallowed, vomiting and diarrhea. It is best to keep these plants out of reach from your pet, and if you have cats in the house it is best to avoid lilies all together.

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