Holiday Hazards

As the weather gets colder and the leaves start changing, our minds turn to pumpkins, turkeys and presents. As a pet owner however, our minds also need to turn toward the potential hazards our pets can face during the fall holiday season. Below are just a few of the most common holiday related concerns we get at Ridgewood Animal Hospital.

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1. Chocolate: Methylxanthines are the compounds that makes chocolate toxic to cats and dogs. It varies in amount based on the type of chocolate, with bakers chocolate and dark chocolates being the most dangerous. Initial signs include vomiting, diarrhea and tremors that can then progress to heart arrhythmias, seizures, coma and death.

2. Open Flames: In this case, curiosity can definitely kill the cat.

3. Open Doors: When trick-or-treaters come by, make sure your pets are properly secured. With all the hustle and bustle of the evening, they could easily panic and become lost or worse.


1. Pancreatitis: While it may be tempting to let your dog indulge in turkey and gravy, don’t give into temptation! Getting something they aren’t used to (especially high fat foods) can lead to inflammation of the pancreas. Affected animals present with vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and extreme abdominal pain. Hospitalization is frequently needed and, in the most severe cases, death can result.

2. Foreign Bodies: Dogs love bones. However these can become lodged or splinter, causing internal damage. In cases of obstruction or perforation, surgery must be quickly performed to remove and repair damaged structures (stomach, small intestine) before irreversible damage is done.

Christmas and Other Winter Holidays

1. Electrocution: Lights are fun and festive in December, but remember, cats and dogs may decide to chew on electrical cords.

2. Ribbons: These are more of a danger to cats, since they like play with and chase them, but dogs are at risk too. When ingested the ribbon causes the intestines to “accordion” and if not quickly addressed surgically, can saw through them causing life threatening damage.

3. Poinsettias: Toxic to dogs and cats with cats being more susceptible. Generally associated with irritation to the mouth and stomach, sometimes causing vomiting.

It’s impossible to protect our pets from everything, but by keeping aware of potential hazards and taking appropriate steps, you can help keep your furry friend happy and healthy.