MAKE SURE YOUR 4-PAWS ENJOYS CHRISTMAS TOO!
There are lots of "dangers" around for your beloved faithful-friend over the festive season... so do make sure you are aware of them!
Take a look at some of our handy hints for a safe and happy Christmas for all!
Lots of the usual "festive treats" that we like to stuff ourselves silly with over the holidays can have terrible affects for your dog if they decide to help themselves.... we've listed a few of the most common below, but if you are in any doubt whatsoever - give your vet a call for advice:
GRAPES, RAISINS, CURRANTS:
Currently, it's not known why these fruits are so toxic for our dogs. Research has shown that a mycotoxin, (a toxic substance produced by a fungus or mould), may be the cause. Or possibly it's a salicylate, (aspirin-like), drug that can be naturally found in the grape. So far no confirmed toxic agent has been identified.
BUT: it can cause decreased blood flow to the kidneys and complete kidney failure to our faithful friends.
Unfortunately, there is no confirmed "toxic dose", as some dogs appear to tolerate small doses of the fruit without any consequences: while other dogs may develop poisoning after the ingestion of just a few grapes. There is no way to predict which dogs may be more sensitive.
The most common early symptom is vomiting, which is generally seen within 24 hours following ingestion. Lack of appetite, lethargy, and possibly diarrhea can be also seen within the next 12-24 hours. More severe signs are not seen for 24-48 hours after ingestion: often after acute kidney failure has already begun. Signs of acute kidney failure include nausea, lack of appetite, vomiting, uremic breath, diarrhea, abdominal pain, excessive thirst, and excessive urination.
As the poisoning progresses, the kidneys may shut down and the dog will not produce any urine. Following this, the dog's blood pressure will increase dramatically and the dog will usually lapse into a coma. Once the kidneys have shut down and urine output has dropped, the prognosis is poor.
MINCE PIES, CHRISTMAS PUDDING, CHRISTMAS CAKE:
Obviously, these are full of raisins or currants, which, (as above), are exceedingly toxic for your dog. It's far more common for them to ingest far more of the fruit in this form, because there are so many packed into these products and they are smaller.
ANY foods containing grapes, raisins, and currants, even such as raisin-bran cereals, trail mix, granola mix, are all potential sources of poison.
Prognosis depends on many factors, including how severe the poisoning was, how soon the dog received treatment, whether or not kidney failure had already begun and whether the clinical signs and kidney values improved once treatment was started.
Without question, it's safe to say: keep all grapes, raisins, currants, or foods containing these fruits, out of reach of your pets. Do not share any food that may contain grapes or raisins with your dog, and especially do not use grapes as treats for your dog.
It's vital to remember, (and not just at Christmas-time!) that ANY cooked bone can be fatal for your dog.
Obviously, far more meat joints are cooked over the festive period than normal and can often result in the carcass sitting in the kitchen, whilst the "chef of the family" finally takes a rest from the kitchen and sits down to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Once cooked, ALL bones become brittle & can splinter easily. If consumed by your dog - this can lead to a huge amount of problems.... some of which we've listed below: (beware - it's not pleasant reading!)
- Broken teeth. This may call for expensive veterinary dentistry.
- Mouth or tongue injuries. These can be very bloody and messy and may require a trip to see your vet.
- Bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw. This can be frightening or painful for your dog and potentially costly to you, as it usually means a trip to see your vet.
- Bone gets stuck in esophagus. Your dog may gag, trying to bring the bone back up, and will need to see your vet.
- Bone gets stuck in windpipe. This may happen if your dog accidentally inhales a small enough piece of bone. This is an emergency because your dog will have trouble breathing and warrants an immediate trip to your vet!
- Bone gets stuck in stomach. It went down just fine, but the bone may be too big to pass out of the stomach and into the intestines. Depending on the bone’s size, your dog may need surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure in which your vet uses a long tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tools to try to remove the stuck bone from the stomach.
- Bone gets stuck in intestines and causes a blockage. Surgery may be required.
- Constipation due to bone fragments. Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they’re very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along. This causes severe pain and may require a visit to your vet. Bones also contain a lot of calcium, which is very firming to the stool.
- Severe bleeding from the rectum. This is very messy and can be dangerous. It’s an immediate trip to see your vet.
- Peritonitis. This nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen is caused when bone fragments poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines. Your dog needs an emergency visit to your vet, as peritonitis can kill.
Most dog-owners are astute enough to avoid the initial pitfall of their 4-paws helping themselves to the left-over carcasses from work-tops, but please don't forget that a deliciously-tasty smelling carcass or bones in the bin can be readily "raided" over-night!
Lots also forget that the string from any meat joint is also very tempting for a dog & could be equally as harmful if ingested.
The best thing is to take it straight outside into a sealed bin.
The ONLY type of bone that is safe for your dog is a raw one... but do remember that most birds are all hollow boned animals & as such, these bones will splinter either raw or cooked and should never be given to your dog under any circumstances.
Any food containing onion, garlic or leek can be harmful to your dog.
Plants in this food-family contain organosulfur compounds, which account for the distinctive odor and flavour associated with them. These compounds are metabolized into highly reactive oxidants which can damage your dog's red blood cells, causing life-threatening anaemia.
Typically the onset is delayed by several days, but large doses may cause symptoms of anemia as little as one day after ingestion. Vomiting, diarrhea and gastric upset may also be present. The toxic dose is typically 15-30 grams per kilogram of the dog’s weight, or about .5% of the body weight. All types of allium species can cause this toxicity, but garlic is the most concentrated and therefore the most dangerous for dogs. Dried, powdered, and cooked products are just as toxic as those that are fresh and raw.
CHOCOLATE: (the "obvious" one!)
Chocolate is poisonous to dogs; however, the hazard of chocolate to your dog depends on the type of chocolate, the amount consumed and your dog's size. In large enough amounts, chocolate and cocoa products can kill your dog.
The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Humans easily metabolize theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system.
A large dog can consume more chocolate than a small dog before suffering ill effects. A small amount of chocolate will probably only give your dog an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea. With large amounts, theobromine can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack. The onset of theobromine poisoning is usually marked by severe hyperactivity.
The usual treatment for theobromine poisoning is to induce vomiting within two hours of ingestion. If you are worried or suspect that your dog may have eaten a large quantity of chocolate and they are showing any of the signs listed above, call your vet immediately.
Different chocolate types have different theobromine levels. Cocoa, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate contain the highest levels, while milk chocolate and white chocolate have the lowest.
If you’re dealing with any quantity of dark or bitter chocolate, err on the side of caution. The high level of theobromine in dark chocolate means it takes only a very small amount to poison a dog. Less than an ounce of dark chocolate may be enough to poison a 44-pound dog (approx 19kg.)
Much as some of us like the "Christmas-Tipple" our 4-paws do not...
Much more alcohol is used in our cooking over the festive season and so even normal titbits can be potentially problematic over the Christmas period.
As in humans, when a dog is exposed to alcohol it causes depression of their central nervous system. Its effects on a pet's nervous system are similar to those of humans in many ways. The dog slows down, becomes drowsy and loses coordination. If they're exposed to higher levels of alcohol it can depress their nervous system to the point that their breathing and heart rate slow down.
Their body temperature drops. Their blood chemistry is also altered, leading to a dangerous condition called metabolic acidosiswhere the blood becomes too acidic. At this point, without treatment, death soon follows usually due to cardiac arrest. Even if a dog doesn't die from the acute effects of alcohol poisoning, the toxin can still harm their kidneys and liver.
Alcohol is absorbed into our pet’s bodies in as little as 30 minutes. The gastrointestinal tract rapidly absorbs this toxic substance, as does the skin.
Yup - as if the above isn't enough: your poor dog is also "at risk" with some of the festive plants that adorn our households.
One of the most popular holiday plants often considered poisonous are poinsettias. But in fact, they are “non” to “mildly” toxic and do not deserve their bad reputation. Pets that ingest poinsettias generally have no clinical signs or mild gastrointestinal discomfort. A mild rash may develop if rubbed on the skin, but they are considered safe to keep in the home.
Christmas trees are also generally safe for pets. However, pine needles can cause damage to eyes if pets should run into the tree, such as a corneal laceration. Should pets ingest the sap produced by the tree, mild gastrointestinal discomfort may occur, but natural trees are generally non-toxic for our pets.
Mistletoe, on the other hand, can be quite poisonous to pets. If ingested, pets may experience gastrointestinal upset, or show clinical signs of poisoning such as a change in mental function, difficulty breathing, or a low heart rate. Vet assistance should be sought immediately.
Holly and amaryllis can also be dangerous for pets and is considered poisonous. Clinical symptoms may be displayed as vomiting, diarrhea, decreased energy, and general upset stomach. Again - take a trip to your vet.
TREATS & FEEDING!
Much as most of us over-eat over the festive season, it is really not a good idea for your dog to do the same!
Any pet should only be fed foods appropriate to their breed and age and the correct portion size is really important. Obviously our pets are much smaller than we are and require much smaller amounts of food.
In fact, if a medium-sized dog were to eat a full Christmas turkey dinner: it would be the equivalent of a human eating three dinners in one go!
While many pet owners feel that feeding their animals hearty meals, table scraps, and treats is a sign of love and caring, overfeeding leads to an abundance of health problems that can shorten or endanger their lives.
Another problem with feeding pets big portions is gastric torsion: the stomach dilates due to excess food & gas, either from swallowing air whilst eating or from the meal fermenting. The stomach then twists around on itself, blocking digestion & restricts the blood flow, which in turn affects their internal organs.
Although it's tempting to let your dog have a "Christmas treat" from your plate - you should eliminate table scraps because dog food provides all the nutrients your dog needs, which is very different than human food. In addition to this, human foods typically have oils and salts that aren't good for your dog. These substances can actually lead to serious problems, including gastric issues.
Give treats sparingly. Like table scraps, treats can give your dog calories they don’t need.
After all that - AVMR wish you & your 4-paws a safe and
VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS + PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR
(which will of course be an even better one, after a stay in one of our dog-friendly Holiday Homes for 2018)
Check out our dog-friendly Holiday Homes: