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Pet Toxins

Are you planning more face-to-face holiday festivities this year than last? Including your pet can be fun, yet extra precaution is necessary to prevent any unexpected trips to the animal emergency hospital. We know you love your pets; just don’t indulge them with excessive treats, fatty foods or allow them access to things like plants or decorations that might be poisonous or toxic for them. We have some great tips to help you and your pet have a festive, tragedy free holiday.

Holiday Planning for Pets

  • Festive Foods – Do not feed turkey skin or undercooked meat – there may be salmonella lurking; bones can splinter – Secure the trash so nosy pets won’t help themselves
  • Chocolate –Keep sweets out of reach and don’t give your pet chocolates which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rate, seizures and death
  • No Alcoholic Beverages – Pets can become very sick and die
  • Holiday Plants – Lilies can cause kidney failure in cats; mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset or even cardiovascular problems
  • Secure Your Tree – Tree water can contain fertilizers and toxins; your pet can pull your tree over and become entangled; lights can cause electrocution if chewed
  • Candles – Fire is the biggest threat
  • Guests – Even the most well-intentioned guests can cause problems. Remind your guests to secure any medications/ food/ candy/ gum they may be carrying – watch your exits for escaping pets
  • Give Pets Space – Be sure your pet has a safe space to get away from the fun and festivities
  • Plan Ahead for Travel – Consider the type and mode of travel and plan accordingly for your pet. Have a full supply of any medications, special foods and copies of health certificates and licenses. Be sure your pet is current on all vaccines and is microchipped. Then, have a great holiday!

Below are the top ten most common pet toxins identified by the Pet Poison Helpline.

Dog Poisons

  1. Chocolate
  2. Mouse and Rat Poisons
  3. Anti-inflammatory medications (Advil, Motrin)
  4. Xylitol (sugar-free gum and more foods)
  5. Grapes and Raisins
  6. Antidepressant medications
  7. Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol)
  8. Vitamin D overdose
  9. Stimulant Medications (e.g., for ADD/ADHD)
  10. Fertilizers

Cat Poisons

  1. Lilies (Lilium species)
  2. Spot-on-flea/medication for dogs
  3. Household cleaners
  4. Antidepressant Medications
  5. Essential Oils
  6. Anti-inflammatory Medications (Advil, Motrin)
  7. Mouse & rat poisons (rodenticides)
  8. Stimulant medications (e.g., for ADD/ADHD)
  9. Onions and garlic
  10. Vitamin D overdose

Pet Pancreatitis

You and your family – including your pet – enjoyed your holiday party. In spite of your best efforts, your pet sneaked a few treats from the table; guests fed him treats because he looked at them with those big eyes or managed to rummage through the garbage can. Now you notice that, among other symptoms, your pet is lethargic, vomiting has diarrhea, and may have a fever. This can be pancreatitis as a result of overindulgence of fatty foods such as turkey skin or ham drippings, among other foods. Severe pancreatitis can be life-threatening.

If your pet is experiencing these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. Routine blood tests, as well as specific tests, will be conducted to determine if your pet is suffering from pancreatitis and if it is pancreatitis, treatment may include hospitalization with intravenous fluids and electrolytes as well as medication to control nausea and vomiting. Ultimately, the pet will be fed a bland, fat-restricted diet for two weeks, then gradually return to their normal diet. Remember, pancreatitis can be deadly, and the next time you have a party, please keep your pet safely away from the festivities and avoid another visit to the hospital.


by assistant editor, Roo, aka, Super Searcher With a Nose for News.

Dog Noses Help Again

Just catching up on my research into how dogs’ noses are put to use to help people and the environment. A 2019 study from the Journal of Wildlife Management reviewed how detection dogs work hard to sniff out scat samples from lizard species so researchers can conduct non-invasive surveys of these species to learn more about their habitat and lifestyle. According to the study’s author, Mark Statham, using detection dogs to locate lizard scat has helped identify species for 78% of the 327 samples collected over four years. Evaluation of the scat can help identify which animals are endangered or threatened and, from those analyses, develop ways to protect their environments. I give these dogs a big paws up on a job well done!

Dog Coat Patterns

Nature, Ecology, and Evolution, published a study co-authored by Professor Danika Bannasch from the University of California, Davis, in which dog coat color patterns were researched. As you can see, I am mostly yellow with a bit of white, and I have always been interested in how and when dogs got such unique color patterns in their coats.

What they learned from their research is that no single genetic mutation accounted for the five major color phenotypes identified and that it didn’t come from modern wolves. They tested genetics from ancient wolves and dogs and learned that the dominant yellow had been around for about 2 million years! How the patterns and colors evolved is very interesting. If you want to read the entire fascinating study, click here.

If you think that is interesting, check out this New York Times article that covers pattern markings in cats.

Special December Holidays

Cat Lovers Month

December is cat lover’s month, and we all love our kitties. I am no exception! While dogs may have been domesticated sooner than cats, currently, evidence suggests that cats became our friends about 9500 years ago. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) suggests that about 25% of households share space with cats.

Cats are very popular pets because they usually require less maintenance than other pets, yet they are great companions. So if you share your home with a cat, be sure to be particularly aware of their unique qualities and talents during this month.

Mutt Day – December 2nd

December 2nd, as well as July 31st, are designated as Mutt Day in honor of the many loving, mixed-breed pets who grace our lives and as a reminder that there are many unregistered pets in shelters nationwide just waiting to become a member of your family.

Cookie Day – December 4th

December 4th is called cookie day, but you can celebrate cookie day all year long. Just remember not to share those cookies with your pets!

Reminder – Holiday Closing!

El Gato will be closed on Friday, December 24, and again on Friday, December 31, so our staff can enjoy holidays with family and friends. All of the doctors and staff at El Gato Veterinary Hospital wish you happy holidays and a joyful, blessed 2022!