Decemeber Dr. G's Pet Pointers

posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 in From the Mailbox of Dr. M

This time of year is one of my favorites. Twinkling lights, decorating the Christmas tree, and, of course, LOTS and LOTS of no-good-for-you-but-ridiculously-delicious holiday treats. Whether your pets are counter-surfers or you just can’t help but give in to their absolutely adorable ‘feed-me!’ faces (of which I am more than guilty), follow these simple tips to keep your pet happy and healthy during the holiday season:

1. Avoid sugary and fatty treats: Foods full of fat and/or sugar can wreak havoc on your pet’s system, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and pancreatitis (not to mention the long-term effects such as dental disease). Sticking to a well-balanced, quality pet food and supplementing with healthy treats (e.g. carrots, green beans, etc.) will keep your pet’s health in-check while keeping them involved in the festivities.

2. Toxic foods: While generally okay for humans to consume, dogs and cats are known to be inherently sensitive to several foods. The most common culprits include:

• Onions, chives, and garlic: Affecting both cats and dogs, members of the onion family cause a hemolytic anemia, or a destruction of the red blood cells.

• Chocolate, coffee: These contain substances known as methylxanthines. The effects are dose-related and can range anywhere from a little gastrointestinal (GI) upset to a high heart rate and seizures (the darker the chocolate, the more toxic).

• Macadamia nuts: While the principle toxin is unknown, these little buggers can cause a paresis or paralysis that lasts about 48 hours (generally of the hind limbs) in dogs.

• Alcohol: Even very small amounts can begin to cause adverse effects in your pet, including GI upset, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma, and even death.

• Grapes/raisins: Known mostly for causing acute renal failure, as little as 3 raisins can start to do damage to the kidneys in a small cat or dog!

• Raw bread dough: Unbaked yeast-containing dough can cause bloat and bowel obstruction as the dough rises in the gut. The fermenting yeast also releases ethanol, potentially causing alcohol toxicity.

• Xylitol: A sweetener used in many products (e.g. gum, candy, toothpaste, etc), xylitol causes a severe, and sometimes fatal, drop in blood sugar.

3. Keep the garbage far away from your pet. From tremor-causing mycotoxins found in moldy foods to GI obstruction and perforation from chicken bones, "garbage gut" is not any more fun for you than it is for your dog or cat.

4. Household items: While most of these seem quite unappealing to you and me, some pets just can’t help themselves. Many house plants, including the sago palm, poinsettias, and lilies, are far from pet-friendly. Other household items that are known for their toxic effects to pets include (but are not limited to) liquid potpourri, pennies, gorilla glue, antifreeze, rat and mouse bait, medications, and batteries. Along these lines, keep excess light cords organized and out of the way. Cats and dogs (especially cats) just like to chew ‘em.

If you think your pet has ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian immediately. The sooner a poisoning is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat (avoiding potential surgery and/or several days of hospitalization) and the less expensive it is for you, making everybody’s holiday a little bit brighter.

Dr. Gealow and the staff of AMVC wish everyone a safe and wonderful holiday. If you have any questions about pet toxins or other veterinary needs, please do not hesitate to give AMVC a call at 712-563-4201. Check back next month for another installment of Pet Pointers