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MailTribune.com
  • Holidays pose Peril for Pets

    Food, ornaments, plants prevalent at Christmastime can kill or seriously injure unsuspecting dogs and cats
  • Woody became worse than woozy after the pooch slurped up a blob of booze-laden pudding spilled by a guest at a holiday party.
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  • Woody became worse than woozy after the pooch slurped up a blob of booze-laden pudding spilled by a guest at a holiday party.
    "He was stumbling, unable to balance himself. He was drooling all over," said Ashland resident Kasey Graue, describing the effects the single ounce of vodka had on her Jack Russell/hound mix.
    Hoping the effects would simply wear off, Graue sat with her dog through the night as things got worse. Woody began vomiting and urinated in his bed as he remained unable to walk.
    "His eyes were all zig-zaggy," Graue said, adding the canine's breathing was shallow and his heart rate was slow.
    The holidays are rife with dangers for our four-legged friends, said Jennifer Wicklund, a veterinarian at Best Friends Animal Hospital in Talent.
    From a proliferation of food and drink that's toxic to pets, to opportunities to ingest holiday decorations, to changes in routine and care, each holiday season end up with pets in trouble. Some require emergency veterinary care, Wicklund said, adding she has seen it all when it comes to ingested "weird foreign bodies."
    "The weirdest one was a yellow lab that ate a glass fire truck ornament," she said, adding the intact truck was ultimately successfully removed from the dog with the aid of an endoscope.
    Holiday foods can present a serious risk for pets. Chocolate is toxic to pets, but so is coffee and tea. Walnuts, grapes and raisins also are dangerous, Wicklund said.
    "Walnuts are bad, especially if they are moldy," she said. "Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in dogs. But not in every dog. However, there is no way to know which dog will have that reaction."
    One of the worst foods a pet can ingest is zylitol, which is commonly found in chewing gum, Wicklund said.
    "A tiny amount is enough to put a dog in liver failure," she said.
    Christmas tree needles or water from the base of the tree can cause intestinal irritation. And tinsel, ribbon or other string-like material can cause damage, too, Wicklund said.
    Wicklund said she has seen pets that have ingested string and have one end hanging out of their mouth, while the other end has passed through their bodies. The process of passing the foreign body "really messes with their intestines," Wicklund said.
    Some people put antifreeze in their recreational vehicle commodes during winter months to keep the toilet water from freezing, Wicklund said.
    "That is terribly toxic," she said.
    Christmas plants can be poisonous to pets. However, while poinsettias are commonly considered poisonous plants, they rarely are, Wicklund said.
    "They create more of a gastrointestinal upset," she said.
    Still, Wicklund said, it is best to keep these plants away from pets "unless you need a dog or cat vomiting all over your holidays."
    Far more worrisome are holiday bouquets containing lilies or holly, according to poisonpethelpline.com. Just one or two bites from a lily can result in acute kidney failure in cats — even the pollen is thought to be poisonous, the site said.
    Other yuletide plants such as holly berries, mistletoe and rosemary can be toxic to dogs and cats and can result in severe gastrointestinal upset, thanks to the spiny leaves and the potentially toxic substances. If ingested, most dogs and cats will smack their lips, drool and shake their heads excessively because of the injuries from the spiny leaves.
    American mistletoe is less toxic than the European varieties. However, when it's ingested in large amounts, animals can suffer from low blood pressure, ataxia (walking drunk) and seizure — and deaths have been reported, the site states.
    If you believe a pet has ingested anything that may be harmful, call a veterinarian right away, Wicklund said.
    "At least call the vet. And tell the truth," Wicklund said, adding some people's pets suffer after ingesting marijuana, but the owner doesn't want to admit to the source of the toxin.
    Graue said she spent an anxious night with Woody before taking him to a local vet who placed her dog on subcutaneous and intravenous fluids for an hour or so to help with his hydration.
    "After that he was able to walk," Graue said. "They sent me home but the effects (of the alcohol) lasted another couple of days."
    Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.
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