Happy Holidays? Not if your pet gets sick. The Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine discusses some unhealthy temptations during the holidays and how to keep your pets safe.

Christmas gifts and treats for pets

If your dog was given a stocking full of pet treats, make sure he doesn’t gobble them all up at once, which would make them difficult to digest. Unchewed pet treats can get stuck in the trachea (windpipe) or gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach and intestines).

If your dog is clearly in distress because he is eating too much too quickly, call your veterinarian immediately. Some telltale signs are drooling, choking, or vomiting.

Take note of the timing. If a bone or chew toy becomes lodged in your dog’s stomach or intestines, symptoms may not be immediate. A few hours or days later, he may vomit and have diarrhea, be less active, not want to eat, and have stomach pain. If the blockage persists for too long, your dog could become very ill.

If in doubt, call your veterinarian, who may need to take x-rays, use an endoscope (a medical device with a special camera that can see inside the throat, stomach and intestines), or even perform abdominal surgery to see what and where the problem is and remove any pieces of bone or chew toys that are causing the blockage.

Garlands and ribbons

Decorate your tree? Wrapping or unwrapping gifts? Keep a close eye on where you leave leftover tinsel, twine and ribbon.

Your cat or dog may find these decorations irresistible because they look like easy-to-catch prey, sparkling and waving. In fact, they can cause serious damage to the stomach and intestines.

Play it safe by keeping the garlands off the tree and collecting all the ribbons and twine after opening the gifts.

Ornaments made from salt dough and homemade modeling clay

If you make decorations from salt dough or homemade modeling clay, keep your pets away. They contain a lot of salt, which can be fatal to animals if eaten. Be sure to warn any children who might want to give Bowser or Kiki a “treat.” To put things into perspective, one cup of salt is equal to 48 teaspoons. A 10-pound pet can get sick after eating just ½ teaspoon of table salt, and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt can be fatal.

Holiday Plants

If you have holiday plants like poinsettias, mistletoe or holly, be careful. When you display (or throw away) these plants, your cat or dog may decide they are good to eat.

Take poinsettias, which can irritate your pet’s mouth and stomach and cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. If your pet eats poinsettia leaves, you can help him by picking up the food and water dishes for a few hours to let his stomach settle.

Fortunately, serious mistletoe toxicity is rare and usually only occurs if your pet eats a large amount. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, and strange behavior.

Even though holly berries and leaves are not very harmful, they can still make your pet sick and you should prevent your pet from eating them. In both dogs and cats, the plant’s toxins can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and decreased activity. Not to mention that the sharp leaves could hurt your pet’s mouth.

You can learn more about houseplants that can be dangerous for your pets at Poisonous Plants ASPCA.

Table leftovers

Do not feed your pet high-fat table scraps, such as trimmings of meat fat or skin from turkey or roast chicken. Not only can rich foods cause an upset stomach, but they can also cause a painful and life-threatening condition called pancreatitis. The most common symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs include vomiting, stomach pain, agitation, tremors, diarrhea, fever and weakness.

In cats, symptoms are less clear and more difficult to notice, such as decreased appetite and weight loss.

And be careful what you put in the trash. Dogs, in particular, are known to help themselves to turkey carcasses or steak bones, which can get stuck in your dog’s esophagus, stomach, or windpipe. Sharp pieces of bone can also injure your dog’s mouth, esophagus and stomach and cause serious internal injuries. Once your holiday meal is finished, carefully wrap up table scraps and bones and throw them in a trash can that your pets can’t get into.

Other human treats, including alcohol

You may know that eating chocolate can be dangerous for your dog or cat. But that’s not the only thing.

For example, seemingly harmless mints common during the holiday season can cause life-threatening problems for your dog if they contain xylitol, also found in foods such as candy, chewing gum, some peanut butters and products. bakery, as well as in personal hygiene products. products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash.

Symptoms appear quickly after dogs eat foods containing xylitol. Vomiting is usually first, followed by symptoms associated with your dog’s sudden drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), such as decreased activity, weakness, staggering, lack of coordination, collapse and convulsions. Check the package label to see if the product contains xylitol and call your veterinarian immediately if it does.

As for eating chocolate, some animals develop serious complications, including liver failure, bleeding disorders and death. Unsweetened or baked chocolate is particularly dangerous for pets because it contains the highest concentration of the ingredient toxic to pets. As with xylitol, if you think your dog has eaten chocolate, consider it an emergency and call your veterinarian immediately.

And keep your pets away from alcohol, which can cause serious problems. The most common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, weakness, decreased activity, difficulty breathing, and tremors. In severe cases, coma and death from respiratory failure (the lungs stop working) can occur.

Food and snack bags

Snacks are everywhere during the holidays.

Food bags, especially mylar-type bags of chips, cereal, and snacks, can be dangerous for your pets. Thanks to their good noses, dogs in particular are prone to sniffing them out. These bags are thin enough that if a dog sticks his head in enough and inhales, the bag can wrap around his nose and mouth, choking him. Make sure snack bags are closed and stored in a cabinet or, if empty, thrown into a trash can that your pets can’t get into.