St. Charles Animal Hospital

11685 Doolittle Drive
Waldorf, MD 20602


Topic Archive


Holiday Hazards Fleas


Holiday Hazards

It's that time of year again!  A time of mistletoe and holly, chocolate and, oh yes, your pet having vomiting and diarrhea, or possibly worse toxicities.

Most people are aware of the dangers of chocolate, Christmas tree lights and tinsel.  But it also a time of increased hazards that people are not as aware of.  Did you know that accidental anti-depressant ingestion also occurs at this time of year?

Alcoholic beverages, though many family members may enjoy them, will not leave your pet feeling light-hearted, they can be very harmful to your pet and may even be fatal, as well as beverages with caffeine.

Don't forget when you are cleaning up for company, that many cleaning products may also be hazardous to your pets.  Remember to close that toilet bowl lid, as dogs and cats may drink out of the toilet when you are not looking!  Keep all cleaning products away from pets and don't let them have access to areas that have been recently cleaned until all products are dry.

The following are some hazards to be aware of, please give us a call if you think your pet may have gotten into any of these items, or if you have further questions.  If it is an emergency, you may contact the local emergency center (information provided on this website) or the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435

Invest in an emergency first-aid kit for your pet. The kit should contain:

  • A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP (to induce vomiting)
  • A turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)
  • Saline eye solution
  • Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing)
  • Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination)
  • Forceps (to remove stingers)
  • A muzzle (to protect against fear- or excitement-induced biting)
  • A can of your pet's favorite wet food
  • A pet carrier

Always consult a veterinarian or the APCC for directions on how and when to use any emergency first-aid item.

Holiday Plants and Decorations

Harmful objects

Christmas Rose




Dried leaves of poinsettia.

English ivy

Tinsel/Ribbon/Packing materials - can cause obstructions, making surgery necessary

Tree lights - may cause electrocution, or obstructions

Glow sticks/Firelogs/Firestarters - may cause gastrointestinal upset

Christmas tree water - may contain bacteria, molds or fertilizers and cause gastrointestinal upset.

Balloons - may cause obstruction

Noisemakers - besides causing your pet to be fearful, your pet may get injured trying to run away and hide

Anti-depressants - ingestion may cause depression, coma, and even death

Topical medications - various problems

Small balls


Twist ties



Cotton swabs

Glass/glass ornaments

Hair pins/ponytail holders


Harmful foods

Outside Hazards






Macadamia Nuts

Alcoholic beverages

Moldy/spoiled foods

Fatty foods (common cause of pancreatitis)

Corn cobs

Yeast dough


Undercooked/raw meat, eggs and bones

Onions, garlic chives



Human breath fresheners/mints

Gum, candies, or anything sweetened with a artificial sweetener called xylitol, this may cause deadly seizures and liver disease



De-icing salts



Rodenticide/ant poison


Fishing hooks

After your pet comes in from outdoors, make sure that you thoroughly wipe their feet, if they lick their paws to remove the ice, they may also ingest salt, anti-freeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals



Flea Control


Did you know that the fleas that you see on your pet account for about 5% of the problem! That is why you need a Flea Control Program, rather than just a product to kill the fleas on your pet. Let's review the flea life cycle. Once a flea jumps onto your pet and takes its first blood meal, the flea's metabolism changes and it must continue to feed frequently to survive. (Prior to its first meal, a flea can live for many days searching for food). Now that the flea has food, it wants to stay on your pet - it does not want to jump on and off unless it is disturbed.  Undisturbed, a flea can live for about 100 days. During that time, a female flea will lay hundreds and hundreds of eggs. These eggs are white and slippery. They will immediately fall into the environment (carpet and furniture). Unless these eggs fall onto a shiny surface, you will probably never see them.  What most people think are flea eggs are actually flea droppings!  The droppings look like small black dots or perhaps comma shaped spots that stick to the fur and the skin. If they get wet they will look reddish brown, since they are comprised of digested blood from your pet!  Any time that we see these spots on a pet, we know that the pet has a flea problem, whether we actually find the fleas or not. In your carpet and on your furniture, these eggs hatch into tiny crawling larva.  These larva eat garbage, especially flea droppings!  After a while, they will spin a cocoon, which can survive for a long time and cannot be killed by any products on the market.  Eventually, these cocoons will hatch out a new adult flea and within seconds can jump onto your pet and be feeding again!

Because of this long life cycle (about 3-4 weeks), and because three out of the four stages of the flea's life cycle exist off of your pet, you should not be concerned with a fast killing flea product - instead, you want efficiency.  If one flea survives and is capable of producing viable eggs, then your flea control program has failed.

PRODUCTS - We use (and sell) only 5 flea products:

      1. Simparica – This is truly a fantastic product! It is a once-a-month, chewable tablet for dogs that will last for 35 days.  Where most products start losing their effectiveness towards the end of the third week, this product has almost a 100% effectiveness for the full month.  This drug is extremely safe and is actually less expensive than the other alternatives available.
      2. Nexgard – Made by the makers of Heartgard, with the same taste as Heartgard, it is one of the favorite drugs for our clients (probably because it was the first oral, monthly product to hit the market).  It is for dogs only.
      3. Vectra 3D - This is a new product that will last a full month for both Flea and Tick Control.  At present, it is our favorite TOPICAL product for flea and tick control for dogs.
      4. Revolution - This product is a small amount of liquid that is applied at the nape of the neck, once a month.  Within two hours, this safe drug has been absorbed into your cat's system and starts killing amy fleas. Within 24-36 hours, all of the fleas will be dead. Revolution will then continue to kill any new fleas that jump onto your cat for the next month.  Additionally, if any fleas live long enough to produce eggs, those eggs will never hatch!  Any flea droppings that are produced will also be toxic to any larva in the environment that may be feeding. By killing off three out of the four stages, Revolution very efficiently gets a problem under control (or stops a problem from occurring in the first place).   Additional benefits of Revolution - kills many ticks, effectively prevents Heartworm Disease, kills and prevents ear mites, and will keep most intestinal parasites under control. 
      5. Capstar  - This product has only one purpose - It will kill all the fleas on your pet within an hour.  However, this product does not last more than a day, so it is useful only when you need the current fleas killed really fast!  It will not act as a control drug.

These are the ONLY flea products that we recommend. There are specific reasons why other products are not recommended by us - most of these products lack efficacy or are more toxic. Please feel free to discuss any questions with our staff.