Got pets? These holiday foods and decorations can lead to an emergency vet visit

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Every year around this time, local veterinarians see an influx of patients with similar symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.

The holidays bring with them a lot of foods and some decorations that can be toxic to our pets.

A big one? Chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

"If it’s dark chocolate, it could be a big toxicity issue so keep all of that stuff up and away from the pets," said Dr. Jacquelyn Zidzik, an emergency veterinarian at Blue Pearl in Virginia Beach.

Dr. Zidzik advises against feeding pets scraps from the table because there are a lot of foods that could get them sick.

“Raisins, grapes, those are another one that most people don’t know are actually toxic. Table scraps, they don’t need those either. Lots of [people] will give them just a small piece of ham or turkey and then they get pancreatitis," she said.

When it comes to decorations, like tree ornaments, Dr. Zidzik says to make sure they're not in a place where pets can chew on them. Poinsettias are also toxic and deer antlers for dogs to chew? They can break teeth.

But sometimes we can take all the precautions and our four-legged friends can still get into a dangerous situation. That's why Dr. Zidzik advises pet owners to keep on an eye out for any behavioral changes.

“(If there's) vomiting, you want to call, ask us, explain what’s happened at home. Definitely come on in if it’s getting excessive, more than once or twice. If they’re not eating, they seem lethargic, they just don’t have any energy, or, if you know something’s missing, so if an ornament goes missing, tinsel, anything. It’s better to get them checked out early, rather than sit and wait," she said.

Another common reason for dogs to come into the clinic this time of year? Injuries from fights with other dogs.

“If you have family that are going to bring their pets, if the pets haven’t met before, maybe keep one animal in one area and one in another just so that we know," Dr. Zidzik says. "Always have them monitored, slow introductions because not everybody gets along and you can have fights and injuries from that.”

If something happens during a holiday, whether a pet eats something bad or gets into a fight, Dr. Zidzik says not to hesitate to call your local veterinarian.

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