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Kitty Vs. The Christmas Tree

 

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Olivia and Felix

Kitty vs. The Christmas Tree — Be Aware of the Holiday Dangers

The holidays are a fun time of year but can be dangerous for your kitty. Keep these seven not-so-jolly tree dangers away from your cat this holiday.

1. Puncturing pine needles

Pine is highly toxic to cats. Photography ©FaST_9| Getty Images.

Jordan Holliday with Embrace Pet Insurance explains that unfortunately “live Christmas trees can be deadly for cats. Pine needles can be ingested and puncture intestines. Pine is highly toxic to cats, potentially causing liver damage or death.”

2. Toxic tree water

If you have a real Christmas tree, one of the most important things you can do this holiday season is to keep your cats away from the water at the base of the tree. Increasingly, companies are marketing various chemical enhancements that can keep your trees alive longer but are toxic to your cats.

Beyond added chemicals, it turns out all Christmas tree water is dangerous. Jordan explains that the water from Christmas trees is toxic to cats because of fire retardants that are sprayed onto most Christmas trees before they are sold, plus pine sap is toxic to kitties.

3. Burning lights

Make sure your cat cannot chew on the wires. Photography ©Casey Elise Photography.

Christmas lights might look beautiful on the tree, but they can be extremely dangerous to cats. “Christmas lights may cause a thermal burn if a cat chews on the wires. In addition, cats can be injured by sharp edges from broken lights,” cautions Dr. Lori Bierbrier, the medical director of NYC’s Community Medicine.

4. Tangling tinsel, ribbon and twine

Don't let your cat get too comfortable toying with twine. Photography ©Erica Danger.

Dr. Bierbrier points out that “tinsel is especially dangerous for cats. If ingested, it can easily become lodged in their intestines and result in a blockage.” In addition, Jordan reminds cat parents that “ornaments with ribbon or twine can be extra dangerous to cats if they are able to unravel it and possibly swallow it.”

5. Cutting ornaments

Jordan also advises, “If you have a cat that likes to get into the tree, it might also be best to stay away from glass ornaments, as they could get hurt from stepping on a broken one.”

Christmas tree ornaments made of wood, fabric and sturdy plastic are safest, as they are least likely to break if they fall. Always avoid glass and other easily breakable ornaments as well as tinsel. However, even ornaments too large for your cat to accidentally eat can be dangerous. Snow globe-type tree ornaments and decorations often contain antifreeze, which can be very dangerous if they crack and cats get access to the liquids inside.

6. Tip-over trees

Cats climbing Christmas trees might make for a cute picture, but it can also be very dangerous, as trees can easily fall over, breaking ornaments or injuring your cat. If your cat is prone to climbing and you want to have a full-sized Christmas tree, a great option is to anchor your tree to the wall and ceiling to ensure it can’t tip over and injure your cat.

7. Don’t-eat-it artificial

Even though an artificial tree isn't toxic, it can still cause irritation if tree pieces are ingested. Photography ©-oxygen-| Getty Images.

“An artificial tree is the safest tree option for cats. They can still get in trouble by climbing the tree, and you’ll still need to be careful about how you decorate it, but when in doubt, it’s best to go with an artificial tree to avoid the more serious health risks associated with a real tree,” Jordan advises.

However, you still need to monitor your cat around the artificial tree. “Cats should not chew on an artificial tree, as they may accidentally ingest pieces of the tree which can cause both irritation and potential blockage.” Dr. Bierbrier advises.

Consider Christmas tree alternatives

Concerned about the safety of your cat this Christmas? Here are a variety of festive, safer options to consider:

  1.  Make or buy a plywood Christmas tree cutout that can include painted-on ornaments.
  2. Forget the tree completely and hang Christmas tree ornaments from your ceiling where your cats won’t be able to reach them.
  3. Repurpose a small triangle-shaped shelf, paint it green (or not!) and fill it with special trinkets to remind you of the year or of the season.
  4. Create a tower of books (make sure they are stable) to put packages underneath.
  5. Make a cat-safe fake tree out of paper or wood and put your gifts by it.

Thumbnail: Photography ©talltrevor| Getty Images.

About the author

Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning author whose novels have been honored by the American Library Association and the Lambda Literary Foundation. Sassafras is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor who shares her home and writing life with three dogs, two bossy senior cats and a formerly feral kitten. Learn more at sassafraslowrey.com.

 

 

Dog Food Recalls

Many of my blog followers also have dogs; thus my decision to post this warning. What normally happens after we receive this kind of alert, it is followed by warnings of cat foods marketed by the same companies.  Be aware!

FDA Alerts Pet Owners about Potentially Toxic Levels of Vitamin D in Several Dry Pet Foods

December 3, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating the presence of elevated, potentially toxic levels of vitamin D in several dry pet foods.

Fast Facts

  • The FDA is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about recalls of several dry dog foods after receiving complaints that dogs eating the food experienced vitamin D toxicity.
  • Testing found that samples of the dog food contained excessive, potentially toxic amounts of vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for dogs, but very high amounts can cause serious health problems like kidney failure or death.
  • At this time, the only pet products that have been impacted are food made for dogs.
  • Pet owners should discontinue feeding these recalled products.
  • The FDA is asking veterinarians who suspect vitamin D toxicity in their patients to report them through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling their local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. Pet owners can also report suspect cases to the FDA.
  • This is a developing situation and additional recalls may be announced.

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What is the Problem?

The FDA has become aware of reports of vitamin D toxicity in dogs that ate dry dog food common contract manufacturer and marketed under several different brand names. This is a developing situation, and the FDA will update this page with additional information as it becomes available.

What are the Symptoms of Vitamin D Toxicity?

Excess vitamin D in the diet can cause vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling and weight loss. Vitamin D at toxic levels can cause kidney failure and death. Pet owners whose dogs have been eating the recalled brands and are showing these symptoms should contact their veterinarians.

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What Brands Have Been Recalled?

This is a developing situation and this list may not be complete. The FDA will update this list as more information becomes available.

The list of recalled dry dog food products provided to the FDA include:

  • Nutrisca
    • Chicken and Chickpea Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 8-84244-12495-7 – 4 lb. bag
      • UPC 8-84244-12795-8 – 15 lb. bag
      • UPC 8-84244-12895-5 – 28 lb. bag
      • Best by date range: February 25, 2020 through September 13, 2020
  • Natural Life Pet Products
    • Chicken & Potato Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 0-12344-08175-1 – 17.5 lb. bag
        • Best by dates range: December 4, 2019 through August 10, 2020
  • Sunshine Mills, Inc.
    • Evolve Chicken & Rice Puppy Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 0-73657-00862-0 – 14 lb. bag
      • UPC 0-73657-00863-7 – 28 lb. bag
    • Sportsman’s Pride Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 0-70155-10566-0 – 40 lb. bag
      • UPC 0-70155-10564-0 – 40 lb. bag
    • Triumph Chicken & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 0-73657-00873-6 – 3.5 lb. bag
      • UPC 0-73657-00874-3 – 16 lb. bag
      • UPC 0-73657-00875-0 – 30 lb. bag
  • ANF, Inc.
    • ANF Lamb and Rice Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 9097231622 – 3 kg bag
        • Best by Nov 23 2019
      • UPC 9097203300 – 7.5 kg bag
        • Best by Nov 20 2019
  • Lidl (Orlando brand)
    • Orlando Grain-Free Chicken & Chickpea Superfood Recipe Dog Food
      • Lidl product number 215662
        • TI1 3 Mar 2019
        • TB2 21 Mar 2019
        • TB3 21 Mar 2019
        • TA2 19 Apr 2019
        • TB1 15 May 2019
        • TB2 15 May 2019
  • Kroger disclaimer icon
    • Abound Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dog Food
      • UPC 11110-83556 – 4 lb. bag, all lots
      • UPC 11110-83573 – 14 lb. bag
        • All lot codes
      • UPC 11110-89076 – 24 lb. bag
        • All lot codes
  • ELM Pet Foods, Inc.
    • ELM Chicken and Chickpea Recipe
      • UPC 0-70155-22507-8 – 3 lb. bag
        • D2 26 FEB 2019
        • TE1 30 APR 2019
        • TD1 5 SEP 2019
        • TD2 5 SEP 2019
      • UPC 0-70155-22513-9 – 28 lb. bag
        • TB3 6 APR 2019
        • TA1 2 JULY 2019
        • TI1 2 JULY 2019
    • ELM K9 Naturals Chicken Recipe
      • UPC 0-70155-22522-9 – 40 lb. bag
        • TB3 14 Sep 2019
        • TA2 22 Sep 2019
        • TB2 11 Oct 2019
  • Ahold Delhaize
    • Nature’s Promise Chicken & Brown Rice Dog Food
      • UPC 068826718472 – 14 lb. bag
        • All lot codes
      • UPC 068826718471 – 28 lb. bag
        • All lot codes
      • UPC 068826718473 – 4 lb. bag
        • All lot codes
    • Nature’s Place Real Country Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food
      • UPC 72543998959 – 5 lb. bag
        • All lot codes
      • UPC 72543998960 – 15 lb. bag
        • All lot codes

The recalled products were sold nationwide.

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What is FDA doing to address the situation?

After receiving complaints from pet owners about dogs with vitamin D toxicity, one of the firms reported to the FDA that it was recalling dry pet food due to potentially toxic levels of vitamin D. Many other brands with a common contract manufacturer have also been recalled. The FDA is working with the contract manufacturer to provide a comprehensive list of affected brands.

FDA scientists are still analyzing reports and the information currently available to determine whether the illnesses are definitively connected to diet.

FDA scientists have evaluated samples of some of these products, and State and private lab test results indicate that the food contained as much as approximately 70 times the intended amount of vitamin D. Consuming food with such high levels of vitamin D is potentially toxic to dogs and in severe cases may lead to kidney failure and/or death.

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What Do Retailers Need To Do?

Don’t sell the recalled foods. Contact the manufacturer for further instructions. The FDA also encourages retailers to contact consumers who have purchased recalled products, if they have the means to do so (such as through shopper’s card records or point-of-sale signs).

What Do Pet Owners Need To Do?

If your pet is having symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, contact a veterinarian immediately. Provide a full diet history to your veterinarian. You may find it helpful to take a picture of the pet food label, including the lot number.

Don’t feed the recalled products to your pets or any other animal. Contact the company listed on the package for further instructions or throw the products away in a way that children, pets and wildlife cannot access them.

You can report suspected illness to the FDA electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. It’s most helpful if you can work with your veterinarian to submit your pet’s medical records as part of your report. For an explanation of the information and level of detail that would be helpful to include in a complaint to the FDA, please see How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.

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What Do Veterinarians Need To Do?

The FDA encourages veterinarians treating vitamin D toxicity to ask their clients for a diet history. We also welcome case reports, especially those confirmed through diagnostics. You can submit these reports electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. For an explanation of the information and level of detail that would be helpful to include in a complaint to the FDA, please see How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.

Veterinarians should also be aware that vitamin D toxicity may present as hypercalcemia, similar to dogs that have consumed rodenticide. In these cases, we suggest that you confirm diet history to verify whether the dog has been eating any of the recalled products.

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