The Holiday Gifts You Hate Getting Can Also Sicken Your Pet

Bella, an eight-year-old cat from Conshohocken, PA, racked up a $2,004.70 vet bill for a linear foreign body on December 27, 2015. The culprit: holiday gift ribbon. Petplan reimbursed $1,804.70 of the cost. Photo courtesy of Amanda Tollen.

Bella, an eight-year-old cat from Conshohocken, PA, racked up a $2,004.70 vet bill for a linear foreign body on December 27, 2015. The culprit: holiday gift ribbon. Petplan reimbursed $1,804.70 of the cost. Photo courtesy of Amanda Tollen.

Petplan lists 10 terrible gifts that can cause a costly trip to the vet

They say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth, but finding flaws in holiday presents could save pet parents an unexpected trip to the vet—and a blow to their budgets.

Petplan claims data shows that treatments during a holiday week can cost twice as much (or more!) than at other times of the year, mainly because pets end up at emergency vets when their regular docs close for holiday hours.

“Never has the phrase ‘the gift that keeps on giving’ been more ominous for pets,” jokes Petplan Veterinary Manager Elyse Donnarumma. “When you consider that the average claim paid for food poisoning is $585, or that foreign body removal surgery costs an average of $1,327, it is sobering to realize that those costs can easily double during the holidays.”

Which gifts top the naughty list? Many of the same ones you dread getting yourself! According to Petplan, these are the top 10 gifts that can unwrap disaster:

10. Bows & Ribbons
Most presents do come wrapped, but the danger of gift ribbon adds insult to injury with less-than-stellar gifts. Ribbons can easily become linear foreign bodies. Avoid an expensive surgery by tossing wrappings in the trash (whether you pitch the gift, too, is completely up to you).

Just ask Petplan policy holder Amanda Tollen of Conshohocken, PA, about holiday ribbon. Her eight-year-old cat, Bella, racked up a $2,004.70 vet bill for a linear foreign body on December 27, 2015, when she got into the gift ribbon. (photo below)

“I am so happy we got pet insurance for Bella,” said Tollen, who was reimbursed over $1,800 thanks to her policy option. “It really saved us a ton of money during one of the most stressful times of the year for our budget. You never know what your pet is going to get into or what illness they will come down with. Having Bella Petplan protected was one of the best decisions we ever made.”

9. Fruitcake (and its modern-day equivalent, Panettone)
If it wasn’t bad enough that someone spoiled good cake by adding fruit, fruitcake contains a trio of ingredients that can make furry friends sick. Currants, raisins and nuts are toxic to pets, and the spirits the cake is soaked in can be deadly to dogs and cats.

8. Holiday Plants
The fact that this gift will die in a few days isn’t even the worst thing about it. A snack on Christmas cactus can upset tummies. Christmas lilies can cause kidney failure in kitties. And while poinsettias aren’t as toxic as previously thought, its sap can cause an unpleasant rash.

7. Scarf/Mittens Set
You probably have half a dozen sets of scarves and mittens, but you’re bound to get another one during the holiday season. Donate the duds before your pet gets his paws on them; yarn can become a linear foreign body if swallowed.

6. Lottery Tickets
You may have a 1 in 14 million chance of winning your gift, but your pet is much more likely to suffer a foreign body ingestion if he eats the envelope and paper.

5. Houseguests
There are inevitably some relatives who believe their presence is your present, but they’re not always welcome in the eyes of furry family. Extra people in the house can trigger stomach upset due to stress, and all that coming and going can make it easier for pets to dart out the door and get hit by a car.

4. Coffee/Hot Chocolate
Coffee mug gift sets are a staple of office holiday giving, but whether there’s beans or cocoa inside, be sure to keep them away from your pet’s paws. The caffeine in coffee and chocolate can trigger hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, seizures and even death.

3. Bath Products
Nothing says, “I bought this present on the way here,” like a basket of bath products like lotions and salts. It also poses the very serious threat of salt poisoning to your pets. Bath salts often contain magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) and sodium chloride (table salt), both of which can kill or permanently injure furry friends.

2. Boxed Chocolates
While it can be argued that chocolate is always a good gift, even a diehard sweet tooth is on overload during the holidays. Extra confections lying around the house can be a recipe for disaster. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can cause illness or even death in dogs and cats.

1. Socks
You don’t want them, you hate getting them, and you’ll loathe them even more when you’re forking over upwards of $1,000 to have them removed from your pet’s intestine. Socks take Petplan’s top spot for the worst holiday gift, whether you’re on two legs or four.

Donnarumma concludes, “For the safety of all involved—including your wallet—we suggest sticking to electronic gift cards for holiday giving.”

For info about Petplan and more pet safety tips, point your paws to www.gopetplan.com.

3 comments

  1. Mary Nielsen says:

    Truly horrible, to even imagine something like this happening to our pets and especially during the holidays when clinics are not even working or are short staffed. During the holidays we must look after ourselves and our pets even better. There is no room for a slip-up.

    Also, I would like to add that you should be careful of those guests you mentioned in the article. Many people will buy some gift for your pet with the best intentions but please make sure you remove anything from the gift which is not safe and don’t give the gift to the pet just because your relatives or friends got it. Make sure it is safe for use, weather it is a toy or a treat.

  2. westchesteranimalhospital says:

    Hello Aimee. Unfortunately, you’re right. We do see a lot of emergency cases during the holidays. Some cases lay heavy in my heart because they have resulted in the death of a treasured family member. I hope your readers take caution and read what you have written very carefully. I am including an infographic I have on my own blog about the dangers of human foods ingested by dogs, especially during the holidays. I hope this is OK. If you can embed it into your post, please do.

    http://www.westchesteranimalhospital.org/images/infographics-toxic-foods.jpg

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