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Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Blessings? Or more agita?


                                                          Tantalizing Stuffed Turkey and
                                                                Delectable Baked Ham                     

The holidays have blown in just as swiftly as the cold air!  Who would have guessed the long hot days of summer would end so soon and the holidays would approach so quickly? Let the countdown to Christmas begin! Before skipping into Christmas though, we do have to stop and knock on Thanksgiving’s door, until it all comes to a simmer in one big pot bringing us to Baby New Year!

OY Vey! The one, two, three punch! I guess I should cover everything I need to in this one post and then just regenerate it with each holiday!

First, let us give thanks. Thanks that our dogs have not destroyed our homes because we are spending more time in the stores getting ready for the holiday season then we are spending with them!

While out buying the turkey and ham to prepare for the big feast, I wondered how many of you make a Thanksgiving plate for your dog. Before you do, please know that although it is fine to have your dog celebrate with you, you should not be making his dinner with these ingredients. Onions, garlic, Irish potatoes, avocados, fish, fat trimmings from the ham or turkey, mushrooms, raw egg, rhubarb leaves, tomatoes, nutmeg, yeast dough, turkey bones, and marijuana. (Okay, I slipped that last one in to see if you had read the whole list! But it is toxic so keep the dog away from those brownies your teenager  made!)

                                                   Bones, bones, bones!

It is never okay to give your dog bones, either cooked or raw. I am certainly not going to get into the great raw food debate with anyone, but know that because raw bones are less likely to splinter,  does not mean they can’t. Cooked bones are more likely to splinter or break off into sharp pieces. All bones have the potential to cause a blockage of the intestines requiring surgery, or they have the potential to puncture the intestinal lining and cause poison to go through the dog’s body. I hate when I  hear this very famous blanket statement,
“I give my dog bones all the time and he’s just fine!”

Save your breath because all this really means to me is up until now, he’s just been lucky!


A delectable bowl of fruit, nuts, and candy? Maybe not!

Ya know that lovely bowl of fruit, with a side decoration of nuts and candy you’re sporting in the middle of the table? Well that can cause problems as well. Grapes and raisins can shut down the kidneys and the amount needed to do this is unknown, it could be one or ten that does the dastardly deed. Raisins are ten times more toxic than grapes because they are concentrated. So, if your dog eats a mouthful of these, possible long term care will be needed. Seek your vet's help immediately!

Fruit pits such as peach, plum, apple, cherry, & apricot when chewed, let loose cyanide poisoning into the dog's system.  (Apple seeds may do this over time if enough are eaten. )

Products containing xylitol  such as gum, candy or cookies are toxic.  Xylitol is generally found in sugar free products so read all ingredients on any sugar free product you buy.

Black walnuts and Macadamia nuts (also known as the Australia nut or the Queensland nut) are toxic as well. Like grapes and raisins, the amount of macadamia nuts ingested to cause toxic results is not known. It is stated that as few as 6 to as many as 40 macadamia nuts can cause serious toxicity.
You will see symptoms of abdominal pain, lameness, stiff joints, tremors and weakness.


                                    Oh Boy! Let’s talk Chocolate!

As stated above, any candy with xylitol is toxic to dogs so read your labels!
Another blanket statement I often hear by many uninformed people is, “My dog ate a whole bag of chocolate and nothing happened to him.”
All I can say to that is, “Wow! Really?”

Blanket statements like this bother me because some may not have all the information needed to make an informed decision. So if when your eyes are glancing over the once filled bowl of chocolate and your dog's mouth suddenly smells sweeter, and your friend chimes in with..
 “Hey , don't worry about it. Once my dog jumped on the table and ate the box of chocolates I bought for my wife's birthday, and he didn't  get sick at all." DON'T LISTEN!

When someone says that, it tells me one of three things is going on.

1) He either forgot his wife’s birthday or ate the chocolates himself, and put an empty box of  on the table and blamed the dog for eating them.

2) He had no idea of what type of chocolate was in the box!


3) He was not the one to clean up all the diarrhea , and when his wife complained later that night  about cleaning up after a sick pup all day,  all he heard was, blah, blah, blah, blah!

When it comes to chocolate, the toxicity goes by what type of chocolate was eaten, how much was eaten and the weight of the dog. Depending on all of the above would determine the illness you’ll see, which can range from hyperactivity and explosive diarrhea, to seizures and death.

White chocolate is less toxic than milk chocolate, milk chocolate is less toxic than dark chocolate, & dark chocolate is less toxic than bakers/semisweet chocolate. However what is less toxic to a 70  pound dog, can be very toxic to a 10 pound dog.

All of the above factors have to come into play when you are dealing with chocolate toxicity. This is why such blanket statements do not cover all!
Check here for the type of chocolate toxicity levels against you pets weight .



                                                            Alcohol/ Hops

Although we all love to raise our glass in a toast to family and friends, alcohol ingestion can cause coma and death in a dog. (yes, wine is considered alcohol!) Not only do you have to watch where you put your own glass, but you need to keep an eye on your guest’s glass as well. I have seen many a guest put their glass on the floor and leave it there.

Hops, ( found in alcohol such as beer) is toxic. Don't even get me started on alcohol drinks mixed with caffeine such as Four Loko! The mix of the two is not good for humans let alone dogs!   Again depending on the size of the dog and how much was ingested will determine toxicity. Beginning symptoms would be diarrhea, vomiting, decrease rate of breathing, decrease in heart rate, and lack of coordination which can all progress to coma and death.



Um, Um! Something sure smells good!

One thing many homeowners do not think about not only during the holiday season but all year round, is the potpourri they put out to give their home that sweet fragrance. Some use a pine scented oil to cover the fact that they have a FAKE Christmas tree, (I say as I connect part A to part B!) or just to get rid of that doggy odor! Potpourri oils and cationic detergents are toxic and can make your dog (& cat) very ill. Even if you are not simmering them in a heated container you might have sprinkled some oil on those dried leaves in the bathroom which can be a bit enticing for a young pup to chew on. The oil can burn the dog’s mouth and throat and cause intestinal upset, coma, seizures, and pulmonary edema. So be vigilant to put this type of stuff up high and away from your dog.

                                   Oh Christmas Tree, oh Christmas tree,
                                   and plants that pleasantly surround you.


The Poinsettia is a beautiful Christmas plant that may come into your home for the holiday and urban legend has it, that it is very toxic to your dog. Urban legend is the key, while it can cause some vomiting and stomach upset it is not likely to kill your dog, but to be safe, keep the plant up where the dog can’t get to it. After all, who wants to wake up to vomit and diarrhea on Christmas morning?

Christmas trees can also be mildly toxic causing stomach upset or vomiting. Needles can get caught between the teeth causing mouth sores or ulcers. Of course the real danger comes in the form of an obstruction if the dog chews off a healthy chunk of tree and fails to pass it.

Kissing under the mistletoe is a lot of fun until the mistletoe falls to the floor and the dog eats it! Both holly and mistletoe can cause moderate to severe toxicity and you should call your vet or poison control hot line if the dog has eaten any of this.


                                Tree Decorations & Glass Family Heirlooms    
                               Twinkling tinsel and Johnny’s old stocking  

                                            Snow coming down, a big winter scene
                                           These are a few of my favorite things.. (Sorry got carried away)

Glittering tinsel hung on the tree usually causes the most problems each year not because of toxicity, but because  it is easily accessible to a dog, and when eaten it can ball up in the stomach and cause an obstruction of the bowel.

Christmas lights: Biting on tree lights can cause cuts on or in the mouth and further down if swallowed.  A live wire can burn the mouth and send shock waves down the dog's  spine along with a bit of déjà vu of the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation! (I love that movie!) So keep the wires both inside and outside away from the dog unless you like that burned  hair look! 

Uncle John's antique glass balls (couldn't resist) which get knocked off and broken by the happy wagging tail can cause harm if eaten. This causes problems through the body starting from the mouth and down into the bowel. If you find that your dog has eaten glass, never try to bring it back up by making the dog vomit. Nor, as I have heard some people suggest, is it a good idea to put a piece of cotton in milk and give it to the dog. Thinking logically, by doing this, you are giving your dog another non food item that can cause a blockage. Instead, use this advice that was given by a good friend and coworker, Dr Hanson, who has written many articles for the ASPCA.

“ One never knows if there will be a problem so it's important to observe the dog for awhile and feed the dog something soft like a piece of whole wheat bread. Then, if the dog can swallow the bread without any problem such as vomiting then the piece of glass has probably passed through his esophagus into his stomach where it will usually be expelled through the dog's pyloric sphincter along with any food in his stomach therefore feed the dog anything he'll eat. Some dogs are picky and they won't eat pumpkin or Metamucil. Ideally, you should give the dog canned real pumpkin (or mashed sweet or white potatoes) or Metamucil (mixed according to the directions on the package). The pumpkin, potatoes, or the Metamucil will produce bulk in the dog's GI tract which will surround the piece of glass so that it will pass through the dog's pyloric sphincter more easily and then through the bowels and ultimately it will be eliminated in the dog's bowel movement.”

                                                      Allergic reactions
If you're visiting relatives in a different climate where bugs still flutter, stings and bites can cause an allergic reaction so keep handy some benadryl and give immediately when a reaction is noted. Consider it a real danger if there are problems with breathing or swelling of the neck, seek vet help right away.

Needless to say, if your dog gets a hold of anything that you are not sure is toxic or harmful, it is best to call the poison control hot line. Believe it or not they deal with toxins and poisons more than your local vet does and they can tell you immediately what to do. So don't get pissed off at your vet if he directs you to one of these sites, he is not trying to get out of something, he may really not know what to do. (I will post sites for you to check on toxic foods & plants). Poison control hot lines charge you before giving an answer, so have a credit card at the ready. Everything's a business folks, don't get upset about it.

Pet Poison Helpline. 1-800-213-6680.
They also have a website at: (there is a 35 dollar fee)
ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center                           
1-888-4ANI-HELP (1-888-426-4435) $55.00 per case, billed to caller's credit card only.)

toxic plants
toxic food

What to have on hand for an emergency.
3 % hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting when directed)
Metamucil~ whole grain bread~ pure canned pumpkin (for glass eating)

Thermometer (normal temp is 100.5 to 102.5)

Squirt bottle of water to wash out wounds or to rinse the mouth from toxins like potpourri oils.

Saline eye wash (remove debris from eyes)

National poison control phone number & a charge card

Benadryl (Allergy (not allergy/sinus) give 1 mg per pound of body weight

So,when all is said and done, the company gone, the food put safely away, it might be time to check out those brownies your kid made and have a little talk! 
Until next time, bon appétit!

Click here for a holiday card from me to you:) Yes, yes, there's a kitty here too!  


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