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Don’t worry about your pet and poinsettias

Far more dangerous holiday hazards beckon

Created date

November 22nd, 2011

For years, pet lovers have shunned poinsettias believing the festive plants could harm their furry friends. In fact, poinsettias are not as toxic as we thought. The plant s milky sap can irritate pets mouths if they eat it, but reactions are generally mild. There are far more dangerous holiday pet hazards to be wary of, according to Dr. Megan Rector, an emergency veterinarian at VRCC Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital in Englewood, Colo. Rector says five hazards to watch out for this season include: Decorations. Tinsel, glass ornaments, spray-on snow, foil, plastic wrap, Styrofoam peanuts, and ribbon can all be life threatening if eaten by your pet. Whether lodged in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines, these holiday staples can cause a plethora of symptoms and may land your pet in the operating room. Mistletoe. The plant and particularly the berries are extremely toxic to pets. The most severe cases can cause low blood pressure, stumbling, and even seizures. Tree food/preservatives. Veterinarians at VRCC say sugar-based tree preservatives and tree food/water can harbor dangerous bacteria that can sicken a thirsty pet. Batteries. Chewing batteries can cause acid burns and cuts from the metal casings. Smaller batteries that can be swallowed whole can cause internal burns and require surgery to remove them. Potpourri. Exposure to liquid potpourri can irritate a pet s eyes, mouth, throat, and esophagus. Call a vet sooner rather than later if you suspect your pet has gotten into something. What s the most common holiday mishap? Tinsel removal from cats, says Rector. Tinsel is dangerous because it can cut or even block the intestines. It often has to be surgically removed. For more information about pet health, visit