Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Pet Precautions

Tinseled trees, chunks of chocolate and pots of poinsettias. Festive cheer abounds but with that comes potential holiday horrors for curious kitties and snooping Snoopy’s.
According to the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) there are thousands of accidental pet poisons reported every year. In the year 2007, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) ( poison control center provided assistance in over 130,000 cases to animal caretakers as well as veterinarians in regards to toxic chemicals, poisonous plants and dangerous products.
Pet related injuries range from mild indigestion to hyper excitability, increased heart rates, muscle tremors, vomiting, diarrhea and unfortunately even death.
Bread dough, for example, when ingested and mixed with the animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in the stomach. As alcohol is produced during this process the dough expands and could cause Fluffy or Fido severe abdominal pain, bloat, disorientation and depression. Alcohol toxicosis, which is caused by the fermentation of the dough, can also cause serious health risks for your beloved pet.
Chocolate ( is another delicious but potentially lethal treat. The cocoa bean from which chocolate is produced contains a drug called Theobromine, ( which is a xanthine compound, and is closely related to caffeine. This ingredient, if over ingested can cause your pet serious health hazards. But the misconception is about how much can really be a problem?
The good news is that on average it takes a large quantity of theobromine (100-150mg/kg) to cause a toxic reaction.
The average milk chocolate contains only about 44 mg per ounce, semi-sweet chocolate contains about 150 mg per ounce, and bakers chocolate about 390 mg per ounce.
Using this formula the average toxicity level for dogs is about one ounce of milk chocolate per one pound of body weight, one ounce of semisweet chocolate per three pounds of body weight and for bakers chocolate the average toxicity is about one ounce per nine pounds of your dogs body weight.
So if your fifteen-pound dog ingests 2 ounces of bakers chocolate, it is more serious than if they ingest two ounces of milk chocolate.
For a forty pound dog, dangerous quantities of milk chocolate average about two and a half pounds ingested, with unsweetened chocolate only four and a half ounces. That results in about 1800 mg of theobromine.
So the safest way to avoid chocolate poisoning is to make sure Fido is cocoa free.
Cats, with their finicky food demands seem not to enjoy chocolate like their pooch pals and therefore companion animal caretakers seem to worry less as much about cats as they should their dogs.
Other festive foods such as alcohol, avocados, macadamia nuts, raisins, onions and onion powder, grapes, moldy or spoiled foods should be kept far from your fluffy fur balls. Make sure that any sweet treat that contain the ingredient xylitol ( are far from Fido’s reach, it causes gastrointestinal issues.
For those curious canines and frisky felines, Christmas decorations such as tinsel, Christmas tree water (if it contains fertilizer and can also contain bacteria), electric cords, ribbons, batteries, glass ornaments, holly plants, mistletoe, peace lily plants are just to name a few, of the unsafe and potentially deadly ingredients to this special holy time of the year.
So, to avoid an unscheduled visit to the emergency veterinarian, be aware and take extra precaution while enjoying the holidays with family, friends and loved ones.

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