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Pet Holiday Myth Busters

This article originally appeared on my ongoing series of articles for Flexcin International, Inc as Pet Holiday Myth Busters

We’re setting the record straight on some beliefs, holiday myths if you will, about substances or situations that could be harmful to your pet.  Flexcin Myth Busters – Pet Holiday Edition.

The Christmas tree - center of our holiday festivities or tree of sickness and despair?


Consumer Belief: Poinsettias are toxic

Fact or MythMyth
The Poinsettia is a popular holiday plant often present in households from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. It is also one of the more prevalently reported plants consumed by cats and dogs. In actuality, it has an unnecessarily bad reputation for toxicity. It is still best that your pet does not eat any part of the Poinsettia, as the leaves and berries contains an irritating latex-like sap that can causes salivation and vomiting.

Consumer Belief: All chocolate is bad for dogs and cats

Fact or MythMyth
Chocolate is one of the most common foods known to have a toxic effect for pets because they metabolize the stimulants (methylxanthines) in chocolate at a slower rate than people and therefore are more susceptible to toxicity. Unlike the dark or milk variety, white chocolate does not contain any stimulating compounds and therefore is not directly toxic to our animal companions.  It is however, rich in fat and sugar and can potentially contain other ingredients harmful to a pet’s digestive tract (alcohol, nuts, preservatives, etc.).

Consumer Belief: Turkey is unsafe for pets

Fact or MythA little of both
Overall, cooked turkey meat is perfectly safe to feed your pet.  Yet, most pets consume a diet of processed food, so they are more prone to gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, vomit, etc.) when eating unusual foods. Avoid feeding turkey skin, cartilage, and bones to your pet and stick with light meat over dark.

Consumer Belief: Holiday themed pet treats are safe

Fact or MythMyth
Rawhide treats shaped like a candy cane, shoe, or other fun shape, are festive and tempting to purchase, but they may actually cause health problems for your pet. Rawhide is a by-product made from the inner layer of an animal’s hide. If your pet consumes a whole rawhide or large pieces they could suffer from digestive tract upset or even develop a foreign body obstruction. Rigid rawhides are also likely to fracture a pet’s tooth. Finally, many of these festive treats contain artificial colors (Blue 2, Red 40, and Yellow 5 and 6, carmel color, etc.) and preservatives, some of which have been linked to cancer in humans.

Consumer Belief: It’s safe to let your pet drink water from the holiday tree

Fact or MythMyth
The standing water at your Christmas tree’s basin can harbor bacteriamold, or other agents (fertilizers) that can cause your pet to become extremely sick with only a few sips.

My best advice is to keep an eye on your pet this holiday season. In terms of treats and snacks, consider giving fruits and vegetables (See These Foods Make Great Pet Treats) as safe and healthy alternatives!

Happy Holidays to people and pets alike!

Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).

Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2012) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

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