This year has flown by and Christmas is right around the corner now! We often post on our social media pages about common Christmas plants and decorations to keep a close eye on when your pets are around, but here are a few more holiday hazards that you maybe hadn't thought to be aware of:
1) Silica Gel Packs
Many of the gifts you will open this year contain the little paper packets of silica. Silica is a dessicant powder used to absorb moisture. These are often packed with electronics, in shoe boxes, and medications. Pets like the little packets because they make an interesting rustling noise and are fun to bat around. In larger pets if ingested, most commonly we will see mild gastrointestinal upset. However if large quantities are ingested, or if the packet is consumed whole by a small pet, more severe diarrhea and even intestinal blockage can occur.
2) Christmas Tree Preservative
We commonly get asked about the water additives for clients who are using real Christmas trees at home. Most of the preservatives that you add to the water contain dextrose (sugar) and NPK fertilizer. Most of the time the concentration of copper, magnesium, zinc and iron found in these products is relatively low. Most pets that drink this water may show none or possibly just mild gastrointestinal signs. However, some water could be contaminated with bacteria or fungus from the tree and lead to more severe signs.
3) Liquid Potpourri/Wax Melts & Essential Oils
There is a lot of this used during the Christmas season in many households! The risks are two fold: one from ingestion of the actual potpourri and the other from thermal/chemical burns from direct contact with your pet. Particularly in cats, exposure to liquid potpourri can cause severe oral, skin and ocular damage. It is best if you know your pet has come into contact with or ingested liquid potpourri to have your pet examined right away by your veterinarian. Also essential oils are not benign! Several different types of oils can cause respiratory irritation and even liver enzyme abnormalities in pets.
Pets, like their owners, are affected by the consumption of alcohol! Due to their small size, cats in particular are very sensitive to ethanol and ingestion of even small amounts can cause significant intoxication. Cats are drawn to beverages containing milk and cream (think spiked eggnog, White Russians, Brandy Alexanders etc). The alcohol is absorbed rapidly and pets can show symptoms within 30 minutes. If you know your pet has ingested alcohol please have them see your veterinarian right away for treatment and monitoring.
Our advice is always to err on the side of caution. If you are concerned your pet has eaten or been exposed to something potentially toxic, contact one of our team members immediately to schedule an examination with one of our veterinarians; always better to be safe than sorry!