2018 is waning and the holiday season is fast approaching. It’s the time many of us get to drop our briefcases/laptops/backpacks and put up our feet and bask in the warmth of family, friends and loved ones. As is the tradition – we allow ourselves to overindulge in all the decadent holiday food we can muster up! Whilst many of our holiday feasts delight and satisfy us, there are a few things that you should be careful about with your beloved pets. As much as we all want to spoil them with treats, giving them a plateful of your delights might prove to be a disastrous endevour.
Here are some holiday foods that you should avoid giving to your pet:
- Alcohol – as odd as this sounds, the holiday time is often referred to as the “silly season”. People do weird and wonderful things during this time and one of them is offering their pets a “little celebratory drink”. Alcohol has the same effect on dogs as it does on humans, but the dosage to cause harm is much, MUCH lower. Please refrain from giving your pets any alcohol!
- Chocolate – Most people are now aware that chocolate can be toxic to dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate, the worse the effects. Whilst the awareness is higher, people will still leave that tub of Cadbury’s Roses under the tree or on the coffee table for inquisitive and impulsive pets to rummage through when their humans aren’t around. Please keep all chocolates away from easily accessible table tops and surfaces. Store it up high or preferably, behind a closed door!
- Xylitol – Xylitol is the in-vogue sweetener these days. It may have some benefits to humans, but it is lethal to dogs and treating intoxication of xylitol is specialized and requires 24 hour treatment. Sometimes the blood glucose needs to be monitored every hour throughout the night. Check your sweet products for xylitol – and definitely put it away behind closed doors!
- Raisins/grapes – often found in Christmas puddings, mince pies and fruit cakes all over the world, but even one raisin CAN be toxic to dogs. It caused acute renal failure and without prompt and aggressive treatment, it can be fatal.
- Various nuts – we often have bowl of mixed nuts sitting around the dinner table to snack on, as I’m sure many of you do too. Macadamia nuts particularly can cause neurological symptoms in dogs. The exact toxin is not known, and treatment is symptomatic. Other nuts are quite high in fats and can precipitate pancreatitis – a painful and debilitating disease for many breeds, particularly Schnauzers.
- Onions and garlic – the cornerstone of many a chef’s stuffing! These ingredients cause severe anaemia to develop in dogs and cats. Onions appear far more toxic to our pets than garlic, but I would avoid both in our pets to be safe.
- Bones – the debate about raw/cooked/chicken/big/small bones rages on. We see a significant amount of problems with ALL types of bones; ranging from mild diarrhea, to blockages, to life threatening conditions like hemorrhagic diarrhea and penetrating gut loops. Any benefits to giving a dog bones, is paled in comparison to the many, many adverse conditions we see.
So, what can our treat your pets to?
There are many safe and wonderful treats in our stores, with many bakeries offering baked doggy treats that are nutritious and tasty. Try give your dog a cut up apple to have or a raw carrot. Sounds too simple? We can assure you they will love it and it promotes good oral hygiene too. If you’re going to treat your pet to some meat, make sure it’s a lean cut and has little to no gravy.
As with us, moderation is the key.
Have a very happy festive season and a happy and healthy new year!
Dr Omar, TAH Somerset-West