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Holiday Foods and Decor Can Be Deadly for Pets

Holiday food and decor can be dangerous for pets. Photo courtesy of the HSUS.
Holiday food and decor can be dangerous for pets. Photo courtesy of the HSUS.
December 23, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. - With the holiday season in full swing, some foods, decorations and plants in the home that are pretty and tasty for humans can prove toxic or even fatal for pets. Some items on that list may be surprising.

K.C. Theisen is director of Pet Care Issues for The Humane Society of the United States. She said grapes, raisins and garlic can be toxic for pets, and chocolate, which is plentiful this time of year, can be especially bad.

"The darker the chocolate you have, the more poisonous it's going to be to the animals in your home," Theisen warned. "Also, the sweetener called Xylitol. It's often used in sugar-free foods but can also be found in lots and lots of candies."

Plants such as holly and poinsettias can be toxic, as well as mistletoe berries. Theisen advised keeping stocking-stuffers and ribbons well out of reach. A cat, for instance, could mistake ribbon or plastic decorations for a cat toy, she said.

"They may take it and ingest pieces of it that aren't meant to be consumed, and they run the risk of choking or getting a blockage in their digestive system that can be a very, very expensive veterinary crisis" she explained.

Theisen said just how sick a pet gets will depend on its age, size and overall health. A good number to keep handy, she added, is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435). She also advised contacting a veterinarian to see how to proceed, if a pet ingests something toxic.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA