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Holiday Treats and Decorations Can Be a Deadly Combination for Pets

How to Avoid a Trip to the Animal ER this Holiday Season

Kansas City, Kan., December 18, 2008 - The veterinary specialists at Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center of Kansas City (VSEC) wish to warn pet owners of the potential hazards that commonly take place during the holiday season. Every holiday season VSEC sees a rise in the number of emergency patients presented for having ingested such harmful items as decorations, toys and toxic foods commonly found around the home.

"It is only natural that our pets, as a member of the family, also join in on our holiday parties and gatherings," says Dr. Jeff Dennis, DVM, ACVIM, an internist with Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Services of Kansas City. "People forget how inquisitive dogs and cats can be. Our four-legged best friends are intrigued by the shiny decorations and smelly treats traditionally found during this time of year."

Dr. Dennis recommends the following precautions for pet owners this holiday season:

Chocolate in sufficient quantities can be quite toxic to dogs and cats. "Baking chocolate is the worst kind," says Dr. Dennis. "The darker the chocolate the more toxic it is."

Bones are never a safe treat for our pets. Many emergencies are the result of bones getting stuck in the esophagus, stomach and intestines. Dogs will chew on anything of interest. Owners need to be aware that non-digestible items such as toys and articles of clothing can become lodged in the intestines causing a blockage or even a perforation. Loss of appetite, vomiting, and abdominal pain are common complaints.

Christmas trees can also prove hazardous to our pets. Dogs can suffer severe burns from chewing on the electrical cords. Cats meanwhile may suffer an injury while trying to climb the tree causing it to fall over.

It is only natural to want to share the holidays with your pet. However feeding table treats should be avoided. Our pets are not tolerant of diet changes and the rich human foods typical of the holiday season can cause severe stomach upset requiring prolonged hospital care.

String and tinsel can be quite dangerous, especially to cats. The intestines of cats are incapable of passing such linear foreign bodies. Emergency surgery to relieve the obstruction caused by the string or tinsel is typically required to save the pet's life.

Beware of the damaging effects holiday plants can have on your pets if ingested. Poinsettias can cause mild irritation but mistletoe, daffodil, lilies and amaryllis bulbs are extremely toxic and can be a serious threat to your pet's health if you do not seek immediate veterinary attention.

"If you take a few simple precautions you can avoid a trip to the animal emergency room and save your pet from potentially life-threatening consequences," says Dr. Dennis. "If you think your pet may have eaten something he or she was not supposed to, be sure to call your veterinarian or visit an emergency hospital right away. A quick response and diagnosis is likely to lead to fewer complications and a speedy recovery."

The Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center of Kansas City has been a leader in specialty veterinary care since 1992, fulfilling the need for specialty health care and emergency services for animals in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area and outlying Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Nebraska communities. The hospital continues its tradition of excellence today within its 20,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility; the first and most comprehensive of its kind in the Midwest. As a referral-based animal hospital, VSEC is dedicated to providing superior patient care and client service working closely with the pet's family veterinarian. For more information on VSEC, please visit

Contact: Tajiana Ancora-Brown
Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Management
BluePearl Veterinary Partners


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