East Lincoln Animal Hospital

7555 Highway 73 East
Denver, NC 28037



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Holiday Hazards Your Pets May Encounter


Dogs are the usual culprit when it comes to eating chocolate. Cats may be curious enough to eat chocolate but most do not like the sweet taste and do not eat chocolate. Your pet may be exposed to candies, cakes, brownies, cooking chocolate, and candy bars that are often more abundant during the holiday season. The toxic compounds in chocolate for pets are called methylxanthines - most commonly theobromine and caffeine.

It takes less than 1 ounce of chocolate per pound of body weight and less than 0.1 ounce of baking chocolate per pound of body weight to be potentially lethal for a dog. That adds up to:
** 4-10 ounces milk chocolate and 1/2 -1 ounce baking chocolate for the average small dog (poodle)
** 1 to 1 & 1/2 pound milk chocolate and 2-3 ounces baking chocolate for average medium dog (cocker)
** 2 to 4 &1/2 pounds milk chocolate and 4 to 8 ounces baking chocolate for the average large breed dog (Labrador retriever)

Signs of possible toxicity may be; diarrhea, vomiting, drinking a lot, urinating a lot, restless, bloating, hyperactivity, tremors, wobbly gait, seizures, abnormal rhythms of the heart, high temperatures, coma, and death. Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) may also occur 24 to 72 hours after ingesting chocolate (because of the high fat content).

If your pet has ingested chocolate consider it an emergency - contact your veterinarian for instructions as soon as possible.
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Some decorations on the tree and around the house may be a problem for your pet. Cats are attracted to and may ingest tinsel or shiny garland and dogs often like to eat ornaments on the tree (shiny balls especially!).

These decorations may cause intestinal blockages if eaten. Pet proof your home or use other types of decorations if you pet has a liking for these types of decorations.
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Ice Melt

Pets can be exposed to ice melt products on sidewalks during the winter months. The most common  ingredients in the ice melt products are sodium chloride (salt), potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate, and/or calcium magnesium.

Clinical signs of toxicity after an animal eats ice melt can be; vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, depression, refusal to eat, drinking a lot, tremors, disorientation, seizures, and death.

If you think your pet has eaten ice melt, try to have the bag with the ingredients listed when you call or go to the veterinarian since the treatment may vary depending on which type has been ingested. Contact your veterinarian immediately since a large amount of these products may cause serious problems. If you need to use ice melt around your pet, there are many safe pet products available.
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Poinsettia Plant

Reports on the toxicity of this plant have been greatly exaggerated. This plant is essentially non toxic although it may irritate the intestines and cause vomiting, diarrhea, or depression. If an animal requires treatment after ingesting a poinsettia, it is usually minimal.
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Cats are more inclined than dogs to contact liquid potpourri that is usually simmering in a small pot on a table since they have a tendency to walk or jump on tables and counters. They may ingest the liquid potpourri from the pot or may lick some that has spilled. They may rub against the pot and get the potpourri on their fur and ingest it while grooming.

Potpourri contains essential oils and cationic detergents which are toxic to cats. They signs your cat might show you if they have ingested liquid potpourri are: drooling, vomiting, retching, depression, fever, abnormal breathing, or ulcers in the mouth. These signs may not occur until 12 hours after ingestion. Treatment is usually successful if it is prompt.
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