Happy St. Patrick’s Day! No matter your heritage, this holiday has become a day to celebrate Irish culture with traditional foods, beers, music, dancing, and green – green everywhere! With parades and usual festivities canceled due to the pandemic, we’re left with the option to celebrate at home. Pets will therefore have more exposure to potential toxins and hazards. But you don’t have to trust your pet’s health to luck! Protect them by keeping them away from these seven common St. Patrick’s Day pet dangers!
1. AlcoholWhether it’s green beer, a Grasshopper cocktail, or any other festive alcoholic beverage – DO NOT share any alcohol with your pets. A pet’s liver cannot tolerate alcohol, so even tiny amounts can significantly affect your pet. Both ethanol and hops cause alcohol intoxication, so home brewers, keep pets out of your brewing area. If you do enjoy an alcoholic beverage at home, don’t leave containers unattended. If there’s a spill, put your pets elsewhere until it’s completely cleaned up. Having company over? Remind guests of these rules!
2. ShamrocksThis plant is not lucky for pets! Shamrocks contain soluble calcium oxalates (oxalic acid) and are toxic to both cats and dogs. Fortunately, shamrocks taste bitter so it’s not likely your pet will eat a large amount, but if they should, they may experience drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and head shaking. In severe cases, low blood calcium and kidney failure may occur. As with all toxic plants, it’s best to keep shamrocks out of your pet’s reach and away from areas where your pet resides.
3. Traditional Irish FoodsMany favorite St. Patrick’s Day dishes contain ingredients that can be hazardous to pets. Irish Soda Bread has a yeast dough that is very dangerous to pets if eaten prior to baking, and raisins are toxic to pets. Corned beef and cabbage contain a lot of sodium which can cause salt poisoning. Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are also toxic – even in powdered form. Sweets may contain chocolate or xylitol – both are toxic to pets. If you choose to share human food with your pet, double-check that the ingredients aren’t toxic or high in fat or sugar – pets who eat sugary or fatty foods are at higher risk of developing pancreatitis.
4. Chocolate CoinsGiving your human kiddos a bag of chocolate coins? Remind them not to leave the chocolates or the wrappers where your pet can find them. Not only is chocolate toxic to pets, but foil wrappers can cause a bowel obstruction which is life-threatening and may require emergency surgery.
5. Plastic BeadsIf you’re dressing up at home and wearing green plastic bead necklaces, be cautious! Pets, especially cats, may confuse the necklace for a toy. If swallowed, the string can cause an intestinal obstruction that may require emergency surgery. Also, the beads are a choking hazard and can get stuck in the pet’s stomach or intestines.
6. DyesWhile it may sound like fun to dye your pet’s fur green, we don’t recommend it! Dyes can cause skin irritation, which can be severe. They can also be toxic if your pet licks the dye off their fur. If you do choose to dye your pet’s fur green, make sure the dye is a non-toxic, temporary, vegetable-based dye. Also, please refrain from sharing any St. Patrick’s Day human goodies with your pet. If your pet steals that green frosted cupcake, the commercial food dye may cause an upset stomach or an allergic reaction (in addition to the risk of potential toxins and pancreatitis).
7. Green AttireIf your pet tolerates and enjoys the bow ties, handkerchiefs, sweaters, and any other green attire…go for it! But we have a few rules:
- Always supervise your pet while they wear attire or accessories. If your pet shows any signs of discomfort or distress, remove the items!
- Choose the appropriate size for your pet.
- Your pet’s vision or movement should not be restricted.
- Avoid any items that have small embellishments like sequins or beads that can cause a choking hazard or get stuck in your pet’s digestive tract.