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For dogs and cats, Christmas can be a killer

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  • That's a prop chocolate bar in Fido's mouth in this photo illustration. Real chocolate is deadly to dogs, so don't try this at home!


    That's a prop chocolate bar in Fido's mouth in this photo illustration. Real chocolate is deadly to dogs, so don't try this at home!

'Tis the season of drunken dogs and inquisitive cats.
Watch where you leave your eggnog. You can bet Rover does.
Dogs can't handle their liquor, and tinsel has no business being in the same house as a cat.
The holidays are a hotbed of disasters for our furry kids.
As writer Sharon Peters put it in a Pet Talk column for USA Today: "Much of what is emblematic of the season carries a big skull and crossbones for pets, which, unfortunately, the animals don't observe."
Ornaments. Ribbons. Confections. Plants. Lights. Our pretties are our pets' poisons.
"Treat it early to prevent it from becoming a major problem," said veterinarian Dr. Jaaron Peterson of Northwest Animal Care in Everett.
Induce vomiting to get the toxins out and get the pet to a vet or emergency clinic. A call to a poison hotline might be in order.
The alcohol and raisins in fruitcake can be deadly to dogs. Cats, of course, are smart enough not to eat fruitcake, but they can be killed by curiosity.
What's not to love about twinkling lights? That is, until those sharp teeth bite through electrical cords. Liquid potpourri and scented candles are burn dangers for cats.
Plants are an attractive nuisance.
"Cats like to chew on houseplants," Peterson said. "Lilies are the worst. Lilies can kill a cat."
Poinsettias, mistletoe and holly are toxic, but typically not lethal.
Ornaments are toys waiting to happen for cats. A tree with shiny balls is a month of merriment.
Not so for dogs, who chomp bulbs, snow globes and toy soldiers.
"It can cause an obstruction when they swallow it," Peterson said.
Peterson knows firsthand about another hazard: glow sticks. His family cat bit into the glow sticks his kids were playing with and started foaming at the mouth.
Everybody knows dogs shouldn't eat chocolate, but try telling that to a dog.
Peterson said canine chocolate overdoses spike during the holidays. "Cookies or brownies are left on the counter. The cat knocks it down, and the dog eats it."
It's worse when laced with weed.
Pot-eating-pet cases are on the upswing.
"From eating the bag that was left open to a double dose of chocolate and the marijuana," Peterson said.
Yeah, you can tell if your pet stole your pot.
"They look like they're completely out of it," he said.
Keep an eye on the sushi, too.
Salmon infected with a parasite found mainly in the Northwest can kill dogs.
"They can get really sick, and it's life-threatening," Peterson said. The parasite doesn't affect cats, bears or people.
It's OK to pamper your pet, just do it sensibly.
"Treats are not regulated by any type of code," he said. "Anybody can make these."
Peterson suggests buying pets reputable brands, such as Science Diet, Iams and Purina.
"They will be happy with whatever they get," he said. "As long it tastes better than regular food it's exciting."
Same goes for us humans.
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443;
Poison control
For immediate help: The Animal Poison Control Center poison hotline number is 888-426-4435. There is a $65 consultation fee, but a veterinarian specialist will stick with you through the case. For more information, go to
Top pet poisons
Dog poisons:
  • Chocolate
  • Mouse and rat poisons
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Cardiac medications
  • Cold and allergy medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Xylitol sweetener
  • Acetaminophen
  • Caffeine pills
Cat poisons:
  • Insecticides
  • Household cleaners
  • Antidepressants
  • Lilies
  • Insoluble oxalate plants such as dieffenbachia and philodendron
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Cold and flu medication
  • Glow sticks
  • ADD/ADHD medications
  • Mouse and rat poison
Story tags » AnimalsChristmas

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