GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- While the holidays can be the most wonderful time of year for people, it can be one of the most dangerous for pets.
Dr. Ryan Keane at Eastown Veterinary Clinic in Grand Rapids says pet owners should be aware of the health and safety hazards that are lurking in their homes during the holidays.
In addition to the obvious things to never feed your animal like grapes, dairy and chocolate, an ingredient called Xylitol can be fatal, even in small doses.
“Xylitol is becoming more and more of an issue because it’s good for human dental health and it’s an artificial sweetener," Dr. Keane tells FOX 17.
In less than 24 hours, Xylitol can result in liver failure. The ingredient is becoming more popular in foods like peanut butter and sugar-free candies and gums.
The cold weather can expose your pet to a life-threatening chemical you may not even know is there. Leaking cars can leave antifreeze lingering on your driveway, where dogs often sniff or lick.
“It’s one of the dangerous things about it, it’s a very toxic substance. So, a very small amount can be fatal," says Dr. Keane.
When you decorate your tree, keep the tinsel off branches that are close to the ground, where your cat can easily grab.
“They have barbs on their tongue that point backwards so if they get a piece of string or tinsel on their tongue, they kind of have to swallow it. It can’t come back out," Dr. Keane says.
We're all guilty of sneaking a treat or two under the table, but keep in mind that a small portion for us can be a calorie overload for your animal.
“Very small amounts are fine, the problem is when everybody wants to give that animal a small amount at family gatherings, and you know everyone wants to give the animal a treat... it’s all cumulative and adds up," Dr. Keane says.
Dr. Keane suggests keeping an extra eye on your pet after you have company over and if they're acting abnormally, it may be a sign they were exposed to something toxic.
If your pet needs emergency care during a holiday when your vet is closed, you can call the ASPCA at (888) 426-4425 or the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.