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




Just as everyone is thinking about Thanksgiving turkey and the holiday season, an important topic may be forgotten until the telltale evidence of a scratching and itching pet is seen.  Flea infestations are a year-round problem.  As the temperatures get cooler, fleas outside are trying to find any way they can to get indoors and this may mean hitching a ride on your pet!


The best way to prevent fleas and ticks from using your pet as public transportation is to use a good flea and tick preventative.  Flea collars are not effective, ask any veterinary health professional.  Some may even be toxic.  Be very careful never to give a cat a dog product unless recommended to by a veterinarian.  A type of compound called a permethrin is very good for preventing flea and tick infestations, but can cause death in cats if they have contact with this chemical.

The type of monthly flea and tick preventatives we recommend are  products called Vectra, for dogs and Revolution (which is also a heartworm preventative) for cats.  When starting a flea and tick prevention therapy, please speak with your veterinarian, this may mean just making a phone call or coming in for a consultation.  If remembering to give these medications for you is difficult, some of the companies have a way to set up an e-mail reminder on their websites.  We can also set up reminders with our office to give you a call, or you can always try to do it on the same day (such as the first of the month).  Proper prevention is the best way to stop fleas and ticks before they are even noticed.


Many people are not aware that there is also a human health concern with flea infections.  Fleas can transmit diseases.  In cats and dogs they can cause a parasite called "Tapeworm" which appears like tiny grains of rice.  Other than the pain of flea bites, a disease called "Bartonella" is also a human health concern.  This infection can cause many different signs in cats and in people, ranging from lethargy, inappetance and many other vague symptoms.