Holiday Foods and Presents Can Be Dangerous to Our Pets

Holiday Foods and Presents Can Be Dangerous to our Pets

Overindulgence is unhealthy for us humans but can even be deadly for our pets. Fatty and bony table scraps can lead to severe gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal blockage, and even death. Make sure that trash is properly secured and put out of the reach of your pets.

Do not feed your pets chocolate, raisins, grapes, or anything that contains xylitol (a common sweetener used in chewing gums and baked goods). Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which can be toxic to pets resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, fast and abnormal heartbeats, and even death. Bakers’ chocolate and dark chocolate are the most toxic. In a 10 pound dog, severe signs can occur if as little as 1/2 ounce of bakers’ chocolate or 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate is ingested.

The as yet to be identified toxin in raisins and grapes can cause acute kidney failure. This can happen if a 10 pound dog eats two ounces of raisins or 14 ounces of grapes.

Mistletoe, holly, Christmas rose, and lilies are all toxic to pets. Death can even occur. Lilies- Stargazer, Tiger, Asian, Easter, and some day lilies can cause acute kidney failure and be fatal to cats. Ingestion of poinsettias often only causes irritation of the stomach and intestines with vomiting and diarrhea.

Tinsel, ribbon, and string can be very dangerous if ingested by your pet. Cats seem to be particularly attracted to these objects. They can become wrapped around the base of the tongue or can cause an obstruction in the intestinal tract. The intestines can bunch up on themselves and the ribbon can cut through the intestinal wall leading to death of the intestine, peritonitis, and death. If your cat stops eating, is vomiting, lethargic, or tries to defecate and can’t, you should call your veterinarian immediately. If you see a ribbon coming out of your cat’s or dog’s anus, DO NOT pull on it but take your pet to your vet.

Your dog may chew on or swallow toy parts or packaging that is laying around the house during the holidays. These objects can cause a foreign body obstruction in the stomach or intestinal tract because they are too large to pass. This can lead to severe illness and death. If your dog won’t eat, is vomiting (especially if the vomiting is becoming more frequent), is lethargic, can’t defecate, or has abdominal pain when you touch her belly or pick her up, take her to your veterinarian. Do not wait. The delay may be the difference between life and death.

Some dogs and cats are shy or excitable around new people. If you feel that your pet will be overwhelmed by holiday visitors, put them in another room or their crate with a favorite toy.

Let’s keep our pets safe during the holidays. These tips may keep you from making a trip to the emergency clinic this holiday season. A healthy pet would be another thing to be thankful for.

Karen Miller, DVM

Veterinarian and owner of Lincolnton Animal Hospital



-Never leave pets in a car: The temperature inside a car can quickly rise 20 to 40 degrees in a matter of minutes. Dogs and cats cannot cool off efficiently. They do not sweat but have to pant to release heat. Pets that have flat faces, ex. English Bulldogs, pugs, and Pekingese dogs and Persian cats have an even harder time cooling off.

-Walking/exercising dogs should be done early in the am, late in the afternoon, or at night. Extreme care has to be taken if you are walking your dog on asphalt or concrete. Their pads can be burned. If the surface feels hot to your hands or feet, it will to them too. (This also applies to beach sand.)

-Signs of dehydration: gums feeling tacky to the touch, skin not quickly snapping back after being pulled up, lethargy, sunken appearing eyes. Giving small amounts of water for your pet to drink over time will help but severe cases will require intravenous fluids.

-HEATSTROKE can happen and can be fatal. Signs include extreme panting, salivating, vomiting, and diarrhea. As it becomes fatal, the pet will become comatose and its body temperature is usually 104 to 110 degrees F. If your dog shows these symptoms, place towels soaked in cool water on your pet and take it to your veterinarian immediately.

-Sunburn can also happen on our pets. Areas on their skin that are nonpigmented or have little or no hair are very susceptible, ex. earflaps, nose, armpits, and underbelly. Breeds that have very short hair or no hair are much more likely to be sunburned. You can apply child appropriate sunscreen that has SPF 30 to 50 on your pets. Do not use anything that has zinc oxide in it. It can be toxic to your pet if it licks and ingests it.

-Not all pets can swim. Dogs should be taught how to get out of a pool. Dogs near the lake or on a boat should have on a doggy life jacket.

-We need to protect or pets from pests that are more prevalent in the summer. These include mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. There are multiple, safe products for dogs and cats including topicals and orals for fleas and ticks. A cat is not a small dog! Never put a dog product on a cat. It could be toxic and even fatal. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. There are oral and injectable heartworm preventions. And remember that snakes are out this summer. Snake bites can be painful, toxic, and even deadly for your pets.

-Fireworks and thunder can be very scary and stressful for your pets. Do not take your dog with you the see fireworks. Let your pet stay inside your home. Many dogs may retreat to the safety/comfort of their crate, a shower or bathtub, or a closet. Dogs with extreme anxiety may need to be medicated. Natural type supplements and pheromones are available as are prescription meds. Your vet will be able to best advise you for your pet’s health. It is a great idea to plan ahead and make sure your pet has current ID and /or rabies tags on its collar. You can also consider having your pet microchipped, a form of permanent identification, in case your pet gets scared, gets out of the house, and runs off. Make sure your pet’s microchip contact information is kept up to date (ex. if your address or phone number changes).

-Parties are fun for us but can be stressful for your pets. Your pet may not be used to lots of people, children, and noise in the house. Please tell your guests to not accidentally let your pet outside and do not feed it people food or alcoholic beverages. Be careful to not allow your pet access to a hot grill or coals, skewers, or the grease that may drip from under your grill. Also you should inspect your patio, deck, and yard and pick up any firework or food debris so your pet does not eat it.

– 7 foods that you should not feed your pet:

1. Xylitol containing products- ex. candies and gum (xylitol is an artificial sweetener)

2. Chocolate (baker’s and dark chocolate are the most toxic)

3. Onions

4. Grapes and raisins

5. Fatty and fried foods

6. Macadamia nuts

7. Avocados

If you have any questions regarding your pet, please call our animal hospital and we will be glad to help.

Have a safe and fun summer,

Karen Miller, DVM

Lincolnton Animal Hospital

Lincolnton’s Relay for Life 2018


Dear Clients and Attendees of Lincolnton’s Relay for Life 2018:

We want to thank every single person who helped us with our Relay for Life efforts this year. Whether you brought your dog to our annual dog wash, gave your spare change when you came to our hospital, or you bought a Chick-Fil-A sandwich or a drink from us at the RFL event, we truly appreciate you. Many of us have lost loved ones to cancer or have relatives or friends that are cancer survivors. I lost my first husband, my mom and dad, and my father in law to different types of cancer. Your donations are helping us continue the fight to find cures and to support patients that are battling cancer right now.

With sincere gratitude,

Dr. Karen Miller and Staff of Lincolnton Animal Hospital