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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 24, 2013

AUGUSTA, Maine - With the holiday season in full swing, there are foods, decorations and plants in the home that, while pretty and tasty for humans, can prove toxic and even fatal for your pets.

Some items on that list may surprise you. According to K.C. Theisen, director of Pet Care Issues for The Humane Society of the United States, 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, as well as the sweetener called Xylitol. It's often used in sugar-free foods but it can also be found in lots and lots of candies."

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

Theisen said that just how sick your pet might get depends on age, size and its overall health. A good number to keep handy, she said, is the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435, or be sure to contact your vet to see how you should proceed if your pet ingests something toxic.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - ME