Holiday dangers to keep away from your pets

As we all prepare for a yummy next few days, there are many things to consider to keep your pets safe and keep you out of the animal ER!

Tom Dock of Noah’s Animal Hospitals joined us Tuesday on “Life.Style.Live!” to share what you need to know. Here’s more from him:

At the three Noah’s emergency hospitals, we will often see more than 50 cases of pancreatitis, vomiting/diarrhea or foreign body ingestion just over the Thanksgiving weekend.

As you plan your holiday parties and dinners, remember that fatty foods (like ham, the skin of chicken and turkey) should be on the naughty list for your pet. Likewise, be sure to dispose of any carcasses in a secure container, preferably behind a sturdy door! You will be amazed at how creative or destructive a pet can be when they are trying to reach food!

Fatty foods can predispose pets to pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas. Certain breeds are predisposed (like Schnauzers, Yorkies, Dachshunds, and sled dog breeds) and should be watched more carefully. Treatment often includes hospitalization and may include a permanent diet change!

Stay away from bones, especially poultry bones. While it might be fun to watch your pet gnaw on the drumstick, cooked poultry bones are brittle and can break off into sharp pieces capable of piercing the stomach or intestine. This will lead to a severe case of sepsis!

Other food items that must be kept from your pets include foods with excessive garlic and spices. Many of us like the flavor of garlic, but members of the Allium genus of foods, including onions, leeks, and chives, are dangerous to our pets. Anemia due to damage of the red blood cells, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea are common signs and symptoms. More severe cases include rapid heart rate and respiratory rate or even collapse.

Cats are more susceptible than dogs, but these common food items can be toxic to both.

A small onion weighs about 70 g…this is enough to cause toxicity in a cat up to 30 lbs or a dog who weighs about 10 lbs.

Avoid giving your pets sweets with Xylitol, chocolates and, it should go without saying, alcohol.

Chocolate is a common concern as one of the ingredients, theobromine, along with the caffeine in chocolate, can cause mild signs, like vomiting or diarrhea, to more severe issues such as heart arrhythmias and seizures. 1 ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is enough to cause a lethal dose in dogs.

While milk chocolate is problematic, dark chocolate and semi-sweet, baking chocolates, and cocoa powder are much more dangerous.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in many gums, candies, baked goods, and even toothpaste and other oral products. This can cause a sudden drop in your dog’s glucose levels, leading to a hypoglycemic crisis. In some pets, xylitol can actually cause liver injury or failure.

Don’t like that fruitcake? DO NOT give it to your dog! The grapes, raisins and currants could cause acute kidney failure. Affected dogs will develop vomiting/diarrhea to the point of dehydration. At this time, veterinarians don’t know why some dogs aren’t affected, don’t know the mechanism of action of the toxin and even the exact dose. They do know that as few as 4-5 grapes have been implicated in the death of a 20 lb dog.

Help prevent issues by firmly explaining the “food rules” to your guests so that little Fluffy doesn’t use her puppy dog eyes to beg for some table scraps. Clean up the table and counters promptly (many pets learn to “counter surf”) and ensure trash is secure.

Keep your veterinarian’s information handy and know where the closest animal emergency hospital is located. With a little preparation and observation, you can make sure your whole family has a safe and carefree holiday!

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