Holiday time is here! With this time comes incredible amounts of delicious home cooked meals and sweets. These things taste great to us, however, they are not things your pets should be partaking in. This time of year we need to be extra cautious about what our pets are eating. Things that taste wonderful to us can be harmful to our pets – in more ways than one. Not only can certain human foods be harmful to your pet, but obesity is an enormous problem in our furry family members and can cause many medical conditions.
Everyone has heard never to give your pets’ chocolate, right? Do you know why? Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be toxic to dogs at high amounts. Generally your baking chocolate that is much stronger in theobromine will be more harmful than a milk chocolate bar. Keeping all your sweets up and away from your pet is one way to avoid them getting into trouble with it. There are many other foods that are harmful to your pet other than just chocolate though. Did you know onions are harmful? Or that raisin and grapes can cause kidney problems? Fatty foods, greasy foods and butter can cause pancreatitis in your pet. All of these reasons are why your pet should just enjoy their good quality dog food during the holidays and not share in our meals with us.
What about all these plants that are in the house around the holidays? Mistletoe and poinsettias. Holly and lilies. All of these plants have the potential to cause illness in your pet if ingested. However, most do not have long term side effects but can cause short term vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and nausea. In larger quantities however, your pet could end up needing hospital care to get past these side effects and get them feeling better.
Household items that can have more permanent, longer lasting effects are things like antifreeze, ice melting products, tinsel and rodent and pest killers. Where ice melting products mostly cause irritation to the mouth or skin, things like antifreeze or household rodent or insect traps can contain poisons that can also be toxic to your pet – even in small doses. Tinsel can become lodged in your pet and exploratory surgery can be needed to remove it. During the holiday we have many more electrical cords around that pets like the chew on. We must be very careful, these can cause severe mouth burns with your pet. Glass ornaments as well we need to be cautious with – they can break and cause cuts and if a pet ingests any broken glass that can be very harmful. Human medications should always be kept out of your pets’ reach and NEVER be given to your pet unless your veterinarian specifically tells you to. Pets cannot handle many human medications including ibuprofen and Tylenol.
Now that some common household foods and products have been discussed, there is yet another reason not to indulge your pets’ when they are begging for a bite of that holiday dinner. Obesity is a leading cause of medical problems in pets. One thing that is always said is “I just give him a bite or two.” The problem is, that one or two bites from each meal, twice a day, seven days a week can really add extra calories and lead to obesity. It does not take many extra calories for your pet to gain unnecessary weight. Even pet treats need to be given in extreme moderation. Many of them are very high in calories and can be a culprit of extra weight on your pet. It is the equivalent to eating fast food every time they get a treat. Suffice it to say, if we ate fast food three times a day we would be having some major medical problems also. So many pets are overweight that it is commonplace for someone to just say “They are just well loved.” Nowadays a healthy weight pet seems to many as too skinny. An easy way to see if you pet is a good weight is to have your veterinarian or technician check them. If you can feel but not see their ribs and backbone and if you look down on them from above, you should see an hourglass figure. This is a good weight. Obesity can be an underlying condition for many major medical problems.