With the holidays right around the corner, we know there will be plenty of opportunities for your pets to get into some mischief. While there are several safe human foods that animals can eat, the holidays also have quite a few hidden dangers. 

Cooked bones and trimmings: It may be tempting to let your dog chew on the bones after you cook the turkey or ham, but cooked bones are extremely dry and brittle. In addition to potentially causing intestinalblockages, the bones can also splinter in the dog's throat or digestive system and cause severe damage, internal bleeding, or death. 

Fat trimmings or skin: Dark meat turkey and turkey skin is very high in fat, which is why it tastes so good. Animals are susceptible to pancreatitis from high fat content foods. Pancreatitis is not always curable, and symptoms include vomiting, depression, abdominal pain and reluctance to move. If you suspect pancreatitis, make sure your pet goes in to see the veterinarian. 

Bread dough: eating bread dough is my favorite part of fresh baked bread, but with the yeast in it, dough can actually rise in your pet's stomach and cause discomfort or even more serious conditions.

Wrappings: foils, waxed papers, turkey bags, strings, garbage bags, toothpicks, pretty much anything that has had contact with food is tempting for animals. You would be surprised just how agile our pets can be when it comes to 'counter surfing'.  

Other Holiday Foods: Foods containing grapes, raisins, and currents (fruitcakes) can result in kidney failure in dogs. Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, a chemical highly toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion in small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea but large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias.Many sugarless gums and candies contain xylitol, a sweetener which is toxic to dogs that can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and liver failure. Keep dishes loaded with onions away from your dog. Onions contain thiosulphate, which damages red blood cells and can cause anemia in dogs.

Small children: The holidays are a time for family to come together, and if your relatives bring small children around a pet that is not used to living with little ones, do not leave them unattended. Children can't help but to pull ears and tails or lay on pets while they are sleeping. Not all dogs or cats are patient enough to tolerate this, so keep everyone safe and happy and supervise children around the animals. 

Holiday Ornaments: Please make sure holiday ornaments are out of the reach of your pets. Holiday decorations such as snow globes or bubble lights may contain poisonous chemicals. Methylene chloride, the chemical in bubble lights, can result in depression, aspiration pneumonia and irritation to the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract. For those of you with cats, try to avoid tinsel as much as possible. What looks like a shiny toy to your cat can cause severe damage to a cat's intestinal tract if swallowed. 

Plants: Many decorative holiday plants can also be deadly to your pets. Poinsettia plants are known for their toxicity. Far worse and lesser known are holiday plants such as lilies, holly, and mistletoe. Lilies, (including tiger, Asiatic, stargazer, Easter and day lilies), are the most dangerous plants for cats. The ingestion of one to two leaves or flower petals is enough to cause sudden kidney failure. Other festive plants such as holly berries and mistletoe can also be toxic to pets and can cause gastrointestinal upset and even heart arrhythmias if ingested.

Identification: Lastly, with family coming and going and the door opening and shutting, animals have a higher opportunity of escaping. Make sure you have valid ID tags on their collars, or write your phone number directly on their collars with permanent marker. Make sure dogs are wearing their licenses, and consider a microchip. At the Humane Society of Ventura County, micro-chipping can be done without an appointment and will cost $15.00, and, you can get a new ID tag made right there in the office.  

Stay safe everyone and have a great holiday week!

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