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Holiday Health Tips for Your Dog

With the holiday season right around the corner, many houses are trimmed with beautiful decorations, already prepared for future parties with family and friends. The only thing on everyone’s minds are what gifts to buy and what food to make. This holiday season, it’s also important to keep the health of your pet in mind. Many classic holiday decorations, food, and other knick-knacks are toxic to pets. Here are some holiday health tips on toxic foods and plants that could prevent you and your pet from enjoying the holidays.

Chocolate: Whether it’s a chocolate morsel, a gold chocolate coin, or a plate of chocolate chip cookies, chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs. Chocolate releases an unhealthy amount of methylxanthines. This causes your pet to experience vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, inflammation of the pancreas (i.e., pancreatitis), an abnormal heart rhythm, and seizures. In fact, 90% of calls to the Pet Poison Hotline are about a pet eating chocolate. Be careful and make sure all chocolate treats are out of the way of your pets.

Grapes and Raisins: When eaten separately or together, grapes and raisins can cause serious and acute damage to your pet’s kidneys. Scientists are stumped as to the reason that some pets can eat grapes or raisins and be fine, while others can develop kidney damage. Research is still being done as to the causes of inconsistency.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so keep an eye out for any grapes or raisins that may have gone rogue and jumped onto the floor.

Bones: While letting your dog eat cooked meat straight off the bone may seem like a delicious treat, it can also be the cause for punctured stomachs and intestines if they accidentally swallow the bone.  Hard and brittle, baked or barbecued bones can result in broken teeth or punctures to soft tubes like the esophagus or intestines. There are big differences in bones that have been cooked and raw bones.  Raw bones are much softer and don’t splinter as easily, but can also contain bacteria that causes diarrhea and illness. Many pets enjoy chewing raw chicken or turkey necks. Raw beef knuckle bones are also delicious treats. Work with your veterinarian to do what is best for your dog.

Onions: Keep dishes that are loaded with onions away from your pet. Onions contain thiosulphate which damages red blood cells and an is cause for anemia. Onion toxicity can cause the red blood cells circulating through your pet’s body to burst.  Garlic can sometimes have the same effect on dogs, but because it is often used in smaller amounts it is less of a worry.

Poinsettias: Poinsettias are classically given as gifts or are created as beautiful arrangements that bring the Christmas spirit. Many already know that poinsettias are poisonous to pets. The poinsettia plant’s brightly colored leaves contain a sap that is irritating to the tissues of the mouth and esophagus. If the leaves are ingested, they will often cause nausea and vomiting; though it would take ingesting a large amount of the plant’s material to cause poisoning. Most animals and children will not eat a large enough amount because of the irritating taste and feel from the sap. The biggest danger comes in if the plant was treated with pesticides. If it was, that could potentially lead to poisoning.

Holly and Mistletoe: Surprisingly, the leaves and berries on holly and mistletoe are more poisonous than poinsettias. Mistletoe contains toxalbumin and pharatoxin viscumin and can cause severe intestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea, excessive drooling, and abdominal pain.  It can also cause a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure, breathing problems, and even hallucinations (unusual behavior). If a large enough amount of these plants are ingested, seizures and death may follow. Even if holly and mistletoe are dried, it can still be poisonous. Make sure to keep them out of reach.

Amaryllis: Although this plant is stunningly beautiful, it is overshadowed by its toxicity. Amaryllis contain lycorine and other noxious substances, which cause salivation, gastrointestinal abnormalities (vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and abdominal pain), lethargy, and tremors in both cats and dogs. The bulb of the plant is said to be even more dangerous than the flowers and stalk.

Christmas trees: While the just having the Christmas tree around may not be initially poisonous, fir tree oils and needles can be the cause of intestinal issues. Moldy water, bacteria, or fertilizers that form in the tree water can also cause intestinal discomfort.

So with this list, is it necessary to not set out any decorations or put out any food for the holidays? Not at all! All you have to do to keep your dog healthy during the holidays is to be mindful and play it safe. Try keeping all food away from your dog and keep plants. This should ensure a safe and fun holiday for all your loved ones, including your pets. If there is any question as to if your dog ate something they shouldn’t or if your dog begins acting strangely, call your vet or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.

The only thing your dog really wants for the holidays is health and happiness. To maintain a healthy dog year round, make sure your dog is taking Dog Heiro supplements; 100% all natural and the best way to get your dog to their peak health faster!

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