With the Holiday season upon us, we are often faced with questions regarding which plants are SAFE to have around our pets. We hope this article will provide you with some information regarding plants and other items commonly encoutered during the holiday season.
Christmas trees and Christmas Tree preservative
Christmas trees and their preservatives (including fertilizers) usually contain only small amounts of potentially irritating substances. While most cats/dogs that drink the water show no clinical signs, occasionally mild GI signs (vomiting, anorexia and lethargy) will develop.
The toxicity of poinsettias has generally been over exaggerated. The most common signs of exposure include vomiting and anorexia that often resolves with little or no treatment.
The Christmas cactus is considered to be non-toxic. Ingestion may cause mild gastrointestinal upset.
Mistletoe ingestion often causes a mild gastritis but large quantities can cause more severe reactions. It’s important to remember, however, that store bought mistletoe often contains plastic berries that have the potential to cause GI blockages.
American holly contains many parts that could potentially be irritating (but not truly toxic). Salivation, oral irritation (due to the spiky leaves) and GI upset are commonly observed.
Amaryllis are common ornamental bulb plants often blooming at Christmas time. While all parts of the plant can cause irritation, the bulbs contain the highest amount of toxin. Ingesting foliage generally only results in drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Large ingestions, or ingestion of the bulb, (rare in cats) can cause weakness, ataxia, tremors and seizures.
Members of the Lilium and Hemerocallis families of plants (Easter lilies, tiger lilies, day lilies, etc.) have the potential to be extremely toxic to cats (often causing acute kidney failure). Even minor exposures (bite on a leaf, ingestion of pollen) may result in toxicosis, so all feline exposures to lilies should be considered potentially life-threatening.
Silica Gel Packs
Desiccant packs are included as moisture absorbents and are often found in shoeboxes, electronics, medications and food. Silica gel, one of the most commonly used desiccants, often comes in paper packets or plastic cylinders. While most ingestions will not cause clinical signs, mild GI upset and diarrhea can occur. Ingestion of an entire packet has the potential to cause GI obstruction.
The most common ingredients in ice melt solutions include different electrolyte formulations (sodium chloride, potassium chloride etc). Animals can become exposed to these products by either walking on ice themselves or from owners tracking it in. Ingestion of these products can cause vomiting and there is a potential for electrolyte abnormalities to occur.
Liquid potpourri is commonly used during the holiday season and simmering pots are especially dangerous. Liquid potpourri is a combination of detergents and essential oils that can cause extensive systemic effects. Exposure to some types can result in severe oral and dermal damage. Ingestion can lead to depression, coma and therefore should be taken very seriously.
During the holiday season, alcoholic drinks are often in abundance. Cats and dogs are often attracted to mixed drinks that contain milk, cream or ice cream. Due to their small size, cats are far more sensitive to ethanol than humans are. Even ingesting a small amount of a product containing alcohol can cause significant intoxication. Ethanol is rapidly absorbed orally and signs can develop within 30-60 minutes. Alcohol intoxication commonly causes vomiting, loss of coordination, disorientation and stupor. Cats who are inebriated should be monitored by a veterinarian until they recover.
Another reminder about our Christmas Hours – we will be closed December 22-26 and will reopen on December 27th with regular hours. Should you need any assistance, please call 250 493 0503