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With the holidays just around the corner, we would like to offer some tips for the Christmas Season!

• Keep bows, ribbons, tinsel, and garland away from pets, especially cats who love the texture. A gastrointestinal obstruction is a serious condition that requires surgical removal of the foreign body. If you are unsure if your pet has ingested a foreign body, pets will present with the clinical signs of vomiting (inability to keep solid food down), lethargy, inappetence and/or abdominal pain.

• Keep electric cords and Christmas lights out of reach. Accidental electrocutions are serious and can lead to death.

• Keep chocolate (especially dark chocolate and bakers chocolate) and chocolate laced-baking goods up and out of reach of your furry friends. Even if it’s under the tree, pets have a keen sense of smell! Chocolate toxicities can be serious; so if your pet does get into any chocolate, please call a veterinarian immediately. Chocolate has similar signs to caffeine that can cause hyperactivity, increase blood pressure, muscle tremors, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures and sometimes even death.

• Keep garlic, onions, fatty meats, and fruit cake (raisins/currants) away from pets. Onions and garlic can cause a reaction in their body that can lead to red blood cells rupturing (oxidative damage), leading to an anemia (low red blood cell count), resulting in pale mucous membranes and lethargy. Ingestion of fatty foods like turkey and roast trimmings, gravy, bacon etc. can lead to pancreatitis. This is the inflammation of the pancreas, which is the organ that normally produces digestive enzymes in the body. When inflamed, this can cause severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea and can be life-threatening. Desserts like fruit cake and others contain raisins, grapes or currants, which are also toxic. The mechanism to how it causes toxicity is still currently unknown, however can lead to acute kidney failure. Even a small amount ingested can be harmful (it is not dose-dependent).

• Mistletoe, holly and poinsettias are toxic, so keep them out of reach (or use fake versions to decorate).

• Poinsettias: Oral irritation (foaming at the mouth with lots of saliva and/or vocalization) and vomiting and diarrhea.

• Mistletoe: As few as 3 berries can be lethal to dogs. Clinical signs can be delayed but causing vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, central nervous signs (incoordination, seizures, hyperesthesia, coma), cardiovascular collapse, or death.

• Holly: Oral irritation (foaming at the mouth with lots of saliva and/or vocalization) and vomiting and diarrhea.

• Tis the season to be having anti-freeze laying around in the garage and in storage. This commercial product has a surprising pleasant taste that is appealing to cats and dogs. Please ensure all spills are cleaned up since anti-freeze is highly toxic to our four-legged friends. Severe clinical signs can happen as quickly as 24 to 48 hours after ingestion. At first, it will appear like an alcohol intoxication (depression, vomiting, incoordination, increased urination, dehydration and increase heart and respiratory rates). As the anti-freeze is metabolized in the body, it destroys the kidneys and can lead to acute kidney failure. In these cases, prognosis is often poor since kidneys cannot regenerate themselves.

• As we run our furnaces and let our cars idle to warm up, please be vigilant of where your pets are. Carbon monoxide is odourless and rapidly absorbed into the blood stream. It affects the carrying capacity of oxygen on the red blood cells. Overexposure can lead to muscle weakness, elevated heart and respiratory rate, difficulty breathing, bright red oral mucous membranes, coma and death in the most severe cases. Ensure all carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and have good ventilation.

• Lock pets away in a room while visitors are coming and going to prevent an escape artist from getting outside and also to reduce the amount of stress during this busy holiday season.

• If you are a snowbird and celebrating with your pet(s) abroad, ensure to have the proper documentation, vaccinations and parasite medications organized prior to your travel date. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has an international list of countries and what they require before entry. Please see for details.

We hope you have a happy and festive holiday with your furry friends!

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