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Happy Healthy Holidays

By December 10, 2012 No Comments

Happy Healthy HolidaysI speak for myself and the entire staff when I say that we love seeing you walk through the front door…..but this month, we’ll offer some advice to help you avoid seeing us—at least for an emergency visit. I’ll review the most dangerous “landmines” we’d like you and your furry family to avoid this holiday season.

Holiday Hazard — Chocolate: In recent memory, the Ark record holder for chocolate consumption is a Labrador retriever who consumed over one pound of baking chocolate off the kitchen table last Christmas.

While I myself adore dark chocolate, in general, the darker the chocolate, the more toxic to dogs. Size matters too, small dogs can consume a toxic dose fairly easily. Chocolate is toxic to cats too, it’s just that most cats don’t seem to find chocolate as irresistible as dogs do.

Dr. Todd’s Tip: “Just because you gift wrap chocolate doesn’t mean you’ve fooled your dog! A dog’s sense of smell is over 1000 times more sensitive than yours. Your canine family members know exactly what’s underneath the wrapping.”

Call our office immediately if you discover your pooch has gotten into chocolate. We’ll calculate the level of danger based on the weight of your dog, what type of chocolate was consumed, and how much he ate.

Holiday Hazard – Xylitol – Less familiar to most people as a hazard, but more deadly than chocolate, this sweet, sugar-like substance is increasingly used in chewing gum, kid’s gummy vitamins, and foods created for use by diabetics. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and xylitol poisoning in dogs is rising sharply. If xylitol is listed in the first five ingredients of a product, it’s usually trouble if a dog consumes it.

Gummy vitamins for children are becoming one of the leading sources of xylitol poisoning in dogs. Gum can also be deadly – just 2 pieces of Icebreakers gum can cause blood sugar levels to plummet in a 44-pound dog; as few as 10 pieces can put that same dog into liver failure. Xylitol toxicity has not been documented in cats.

Dr. Todd’s Tip: “When I was a kid, I always got packages of gum in my Christmas stocking. Remember, if you stuff stockings with “sugar-free” gum, hang them high enough that your canine companions can’t do some unauthorized unwrapping!”

If you discover your dog has consumed a xylitol containing product, it’s an emergency, contact us immediately to seek advice.

Holiday Hazard – Ribbons & bows: Holiday decorations become convenient play toys for our feline friends. Dr. Todd and Dr. Tracy have performed many operations to remove ribbon consumed by cats. I don’t know what it is about ribbon and yarn, but once some cats get started, they just keep swallowing. Unfortunately, it’s not the type of “foreign body” that seems to easily pass through- exploratory surgery is usually required to remove it – even small lengths of ribbon.

Dr. Todd’s Tip: “If you’re living with frisky felines, keep the ribbon out of reach, and skip the old fashioned tinsel all together – it’s just too irresistible to cats.”

The first sign of trouble in cats who have succumbed to the temptation to eat ribbon is sudden loss of appetite and vomiting. If your cat skips eating for more than a day, contact our office for advice on day two at the latest.

Holiday Hazard – Dough: We’ve often had dogs in the office that have eaten money, both coins and bills. While that causes it’s own set of problems, that’s not the type of dough that puts the brakes on holiday festivities. The dough we’re talking about is bread dough- specifically yeast bread.

The number one breed pet insurers document as getting into hot water consuming bread dough – Labrador Retrievers. Unbaked yeast bread dough continues to rise and ferment in the stomach creating life-threatening consequences. If the dough contains raisins, it’s double jeopardy – because raisins can be quite toxic to dogs as well.

Dr. Todd’s Tip: “Never underestimate what your dog can smell. Keep rising bread dough completely out of reach. It’s not Christmas, it’s May Day if your dog consumes uncooked yeast bread dough. Seek our help immediately.”

Now enough with the potential disasters, before I’ve ruined all your holiday cheer, let me share a video that’s been viewed nearly 14 million times on YouTube. As someone who spends some amount of time training dogs, I can only tell you that I have NO idea how they put this video together… but enjoy! Click here to watch dogs decorate a Christmas tree.

PS-If you’re looking for an early Christmas gift for your most pampered pets, consider the gift of a microchip -a permanent form of identification. Should your pet scoot out the door during holiday hustle and bustle, a microchip makes it much more likely they’ll return home safely. At Noah’s Ark, microchips are only $19, and with each microchip you purchase at Noah’s, $5 gets donated back to Noah’s Ark Angel Fund, for the less fortunate in our community.