Dr. Kather's Pet Tips

The end of the year brings many fun festivities and holidays for families and their pets but can also pose significant hazards to our four-legged furry family members.

Here are some tips to keep your pets safe and happy during the holiday season.


Most people, including dogs, love chocolate. However, chocolate consumption in dogs can pose possible health concerns and is dependent on the amount and type ingested. The severity of toxicity depends on the amount of theobromine in the chocolate consumed. This makes unsweetened baking chocolate the worst for pets, followed by semisweet and dark chocolate, and finally milk chocolate. If excessive chocolate was only just eaten, it is possible to induce vomiting; otherwise, hospitalization and support may be needed.


Although lean turkey meat is okay to feed you dog or cat in moderation, care must be taken to avoid ingestion of turkey bones. Even large turkey bones should be avoided in dogs due to the nature of the hollow bones to splinter into smaller pieces when chewed. These fragments can become lodged in their digestive tracts or cause significant trauma to the lining of the intestines while being passed.


Probably the most heard of Christmas-time pet hazard is poinsettia ingestion in cats; however, the toxicity of poinsettias has been generally overrated. The plants do contain diterpene esters, but large quantities must be ingested for signs to develop. Most cats just experience mild, self-limiting vomiting that resolves with little to no treatment. Other hazards to be aware of during this time include electric cords, especially Christmas tree lights, tinsel, and ribbons. Ingestion of ribbon material can cause  blockage in the intestine requiring emergency surgical treatment. Monitor your pets closely to ensure they do not chew on these items.

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