Keep your Furbabies Safe this Holiday Season!

Welcome to Gretchen’s Furbabies Blog.  Since the holiday season is now in full swing, I’ll be sharing a series of posts on keeping your pets safe during the holidays and all year.  These tips are taken in large part from the ASPCA site. If your pet has either eaten something poisonous (plant, food, etc.) or for any reason is sick and you can’t reach your normal Vet, you can call the ASPCA’s 24 hour Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

People Food To Avoid Feeding your Pets

Since we just had Thanksgiving, let’s first talk about Turkey.  It’s best to stick to your pet’s regular diet during the holidays, but if you decide to give your dog a nibble of your Thanksgiving turkey or left overs, make sure it’s boneless & well cooked.  Raw or undercooked turkey can contain salmonella bacteria, and the bones are choking hazards. Avoid giving too much of any people food, but adding a few tiny bits of turkey and some veggies like sweet potato or green beans can be a nice treat mixed in with their normal meal.

Herbs:   Sage and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression in pets, especially cats. And be sure to keep desserts and other sweets out of paw’s reach.

Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine:   These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note: Darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.

Citrus:  The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in large amounts. Small doses, such as eating the fruit, are not likely to present problems beyond minor stomach upset, but why chance it?

Coconut and Coconut Oil:  When ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm to your pet. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts do contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. Because of this, we encourage you to use caution when offering your pets these foods. Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet.

Grapes and Raisins:  Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. Until more information is known about the toxic substance, it is best to avoid feeding grapes and raisins to dogs.

Milk and Dairy:  Milk and other dairy-based products can cause your pet to have diarrhea and or other digestive upset because pets don’t possess significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk.

Nuts:  Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.  Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Onions, Garlic, Chives:  These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies.

Raw or Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones:  Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets and humans. Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild, but can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.

Salt and Salty Snack Foods:  Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst, urination or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.  You should avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pets.

Xylitol:  Xylitol is used as a sweetener in products including GUM, candy, baked goods and TOOTHPASTE. It can cause insulin release, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

Yeast Dough:  Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life threatening emergency! The yeast produce ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk.

Alcohol:  And Speaking of Drunk…
Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death. Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.

In General, Take out the trash. If you’re cooking a holiday meal, or for any reason more food is out than normal that your pet could get into, be sure to empty your garbage more often than usual. Bones, chocolate and onions and other holiday fixtures are all hazards to pets.

Also: provide a quiet and safe place for your baby to rest away from the people you may have over during the holidays as the extra people and bustle of activity can increase your pet’s anxiety and stress levels.