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Holiday food toxic for your pup! Yes this is the time of the year….

 

 

 

 

If you are like me, last year, I thought…. I have everything under control, and I will not end up at the emergency. I was so ready…..

But you never know, or at least, I did not! My pack was six years old for 4 of them, and the two others were 9. Every year, I have a Christmas tree and when the pups were younger, I protected it with a fence around but they never showed any interest in the tree or the ornaments. The cats did, and one time, years ago, one of them decided to play Tarzan in the tree and the whole thing collapsed with thousands of broken pieces all over, but the dogs? They basically ignored it….. until last year.

There are moments that you will always remember. This is one of them. I was in the kitchen, and I heard crunching noises. Puzzled,  I went to my bedroom to witness Jackson finishing chewing on a Glass ornament. He was bleeding from his tongue and this is the week where I had to replace my mattress which was soaked with his blood. I could say a lot of things  about Jack, but let’s just say that when he was stealing something, he always like his comfort, so my bed took a big hit with this shenanigan! Immediately, I opened a can of spinach (spinach is probably the best thing to give in that case. The leaves wrap themselves around the pieces of glasses in the stomach!), and here we went to our favorite place in the whole wild world: the emergency!  Fortunately, he did not seem to have any major cuts. Some little ones on his tongue, but nothing major, but I learned from that day that tongues bleed a lot! And that I should always have cans of spinach in my pantry. After Jack died last September, I opened the pantry and saw a dozen of those cans, and they did look quite obsolete, but you never know, so yes spinach is really a good thing to have around!

And the Holidays are just around the corner……

The house is filled with the delicious smell of cooking and baking. A savory roast just came out of the oven and is resting on the counter top, next to a heaping dish of butter for the rolls and a big chocolate cake for dessert. You go upstairs to quickly change before your guests arrive. You’re only gone for 5 minutes when you realize the house is quiet… TOO quiet. Suddenly you realize Charlie isn’t following at your heels like he usually does and you dash downstairs, but only in time to see the carnage…

With the holiday season comes a lot of celebratory foods. Turkey drippings, gravy, buttery mashed potatoes, cream sauces, etc. may be as irresistible to dogs and cats as to us. However, try to avoid the temptation of feeding these delicacies to your pet lest you end up having to deal with a sick one during the holiday! Many of the rich foods we eat as a special treat can cause indigestion, gastroenteritis or pancreatitis in our pets. They may not be accustomed to digesting higher levels of fat, and vomiting and diarrhea can result from having snatched something off the counter. Some ingredients may even be toxic and very dangerous to dogs and cats. Also try to make sure you are careful to keep these treats out of reach for counter-surfing pets, and avoid leaving food gifts wrapped up under the Christmas tree or out on display.

If your pet is vomiting or having diarrhea, it is best to first contact a veterinarian to describe the problem in greater detail and get advice. Depending on how severe the problem is, the vet may want you to come in for an appointment right away or suggest home remedies that can be tried first. Of primary importance is avoiding dehydration, which can happen from water loss through vomit or diarrhea as well as decreased intake due to lack of appetite. Offer plenty of water, or give Pedialyte which contains electrolytes that may aid in re-hydration. Inability to hold down fluids is a worse sign and you should probably bring your pet in to be seen by the vet if this occurs. Avoid all treats and if your pet shows interest in eating, give only small bland meals (such as boneless, skinless, unseasoned boiled chicken and rice or specially prescribed pet foods) and monitor closely for any further vomiting and diarrhea. In most adults and older puppies and kittens, fasting for 12 – 24 hours is safe and may allow the upset gastrointestinal tract to rest, but it is recommend to ask your vet specifically about this. For more specific “recipes” (how much/how frequently/how long) on home cooked diets, call the vet because the recommendations may be different depending on the signs your pet is exhibiting.

Your veterinarian may be able to recommend a dose of over-the-counter antacids or anti-diarrheal medications (such as Pepcid a/c and Imodium) to treat symptomatically as well. If you or the vet deems it advisable to go in for an appointment, diagnostics may be needed to determine the cause or extent of the problem. Bringing in a stool sample and being organized and clear about the quantity, consistency, and frequency of vomiting/diarrhea episodes is very helpful. X-rays may help rule out obstructions caused by “foreign bodies” (e.g. bones, tinsel, ribbon, etc.). Blood tests can help provide more insight into what is going on with organ function or the immune system. In the clinic, the vet can also give your pet fluids and other supportive care treatments that will be especially important in animals who cannot keep oral medications down.

Other problems with “accidental ingestion” may include foods that are potentially toxic to animals. The most common toxic foods include grapes/raisins, onions, garlic, sugar-free sweeteners, chocolate and other caffeine-containing foods. The results of ingestion may be dose-dependent and also idiosyncratic (unpredictable who gets affected), so the best thing to do if you suspect ingestion of any of these substances is call a veterinarian right away. Poison control hotlines can also be very useful. Acting quickly is better than waiting when it comes to toxin ingestion, as inducing vomiting can reduce the amount of toxin absorbed before it ever becomes a problem. A fairly safe way to induce vomiting is to give hydrogen peroxide orally to the pet (1 teaspoon per 5 lbs of the pet’s body weight, up to 5 tsp.) At a veterinary clinic, activated charcoal can be administered orally to prevent absorbing any more toxin from the gastrointestinal tract, as well as other supportive care treatments.

Dog and cat about to eat burger patties on a table.

Dog and cat about to eat burger patties on a table.

In conclusion, be prepared and aware to help the holidays go smoothly for your whole family. Plan ahead and the risk of accidents and stressful events will be minimized, and you can focus on having a good time!

 

More information can be found at:

The ASPCA Poison Control: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control

Pet Poison Hotline: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/contact/