The Only Locally-Owned Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Minnesota

4 Potential Kwanzaa Pet Dangers

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If your pet is experiencing respiratory distress or suffers any burns, these are considered “RED” – or true emergencies – on our Fast Track Triage system. We advise you to seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!

If you know or strongly suspect your pet ingested a foreign body that is causing illness, this is considered an “ORANGE” – or urgent case – on our Fast Track Triage system. We recommend having your pet see your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital within the next 12 hours. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!

If you witnessed or strongly suspect your pet ate or was topically exposed to a toxin, these are considered “ORANGE ” – or urgent cases – on our Fast Track Triage system. We recommend calling ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 for help determining if your pet consumed a toxic amount and for guidance on what to do next. If veterinary care is advised, call your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital ahead of your arrival.

Please see our Fast Track Triage chart at the end of this blog for more symptoms and their corresponding triage color codes.


Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration of African-American culture. As communities gather to celebrate with food, music, storytelling, and gifts, remember these potential pet dangers.

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1. Candles 

On each of the seven nights of Kwanzaa, families light a candle on the Kinara and discuss one of the seven principles. However, for pets, unattended candles can be dangerous. Open flames may cause burns to paws or tails. Also, if a pet knocks over the Kinara, it can cause a house fire. 

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2. Thread, String, Ribbons, & Bows 

If your mkeka has fringes or you use string, ribbons, or bows to wrap any gifts – keep curious pets away! Cats are often the culprits when it comes to accidentally swallowing these string-like materials. When this happens, the fibers can get tangled or stuck underneath your cat’s tongue. Worse yet, threads can cause an intestinal obstruction that requires surgical removal.  

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3. Human Foods 

There are a lot of foods that are toxic or hazardous to pets. Whether you are hosting a family feast, placing a fruit bowl on the table, or gifting ears of corn to each child – there are quite a few potential dangers to beware of to help keep pets safe. Foods like macadamia nuts, grapes/raisins/Zante currants, citrus, chocolate, and xylitol products (often found in gum or sugar-free baked goods) are all toxic to pets.  

 Other hazardous foods include:  

  • Yeast Dough
    • Yeast dough, used for homemade bread and rolls, can cause stomach bloating and alcohol poisoning in pets. The alcohol is produced from fermenting yeast as the dough rises in a pet’s warm stomach. In severe cases, the stomach can twist which requires emergency surgery.  
  • Corn on the Cob
    • If your dog gets hold of a corn cob and swallows it, it can get stuck in the dog’s intestines. This requires emergency surgery to remove.  
  • Meat Bones
    • Never feed your pet meat bones. Chewing and swallowing meat bones can cause gastrointestinal upset, small intestinal obstructions, and/or damage to the teeth and gums. 
  • Spices & Seasoning
    • Spicy seasonings can cause mouth, throat, & digestive irritation for our pets. Also, seasonings containing ingredients like onion, garlic, salt, or nutmeg are toxic to pets. 
  • Fried Foods
    • Some pets can be extremely sensitive to food changes and get pancreatitis, a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed after a pet eats rich, fatty foods. To prevent pancreatitis, do not give your pet any fatty or sugary human foods like fried foods, ham, sausage, gravy, butter, oil, or sweets. 

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4. Trash

Promptly take out the trash, especially after your family’s feast! Often, if a pet gets into the trash, they are more likely to be exposed to toxic or hazardous foods, as well as potentially getting into the bottom of the trash bag and eating food covered in tremorgenic mycotoxins – toxins produced from mold. If you find the trash can knocked over and contents all over the floor, immediately take your dog or cat to the emergency vet. If you have multiple suspects, bring them all in! 

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We hope you, your family, & your pets all have a safe Kwanzaa! If your pet does experience an emergency over the holiday, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota’s Oakdale and St. Paul animal ERs are both open 24/7, every day of the year. 

Need gift ideas for your pet this Kwanzaa? Check out these ideas: 

For more gift ideas for everyone on your list throughout the year, check out the Twin Cities Black Business is Beautiful, a pop-up market that takes place at The Lab in St. Paul, MN. 

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