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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tis the Season! ~ Beware the Dangers!

                                                     Tis the Season! ~ Beware the dangers!

As I walk along the well salted sidewalks, the  snap in the crisp air at times steals my breath away.  My eyes catch sight of the snow covered street lamps which harbor the Christmas wreaths hung throughout the small lively town. Every storefront is alive and decorated with holiday items some with the Lionel train sets of old crawling through fake cities and villages making whistle stops along the way.  Mannequins  are dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and are peering in windows of homes with delight as the pretend children open their gifts from under the well decorated Christmas tree.  Gifts that can only be found in that particular store of course.  In the matinee’s window there’s a huge poster of George Bailey   that  crazy confused character from “It’s a wonder Life” played by Jimmy Stewart and on the opposite side of the bill hosts a poster of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase playing that lovable father, Clark Griswold. 

The town’s Christmas music is playing loudly as the people who are bustling in the street seem to be grasping their coats and packages tightly against a bitter cold but gentle wind.  I grab my own packages tightly and duck into a store and continue my shopping.
Inside I’m running down the aisles grabbing sale items off the shelf, some of the items are not even on my list, but Johnny needs that extra Lego box to complete his Christmas project and Mary Ellen would love to have those gorgeous shoes to go with her holiday dress and of course I just happened to find the perfect outfit for the company party!

 Ooop’s! Excuse me!” I say as my cart bumps into the lady who is standing next to me.
 “That’s quite alright.”  She answers with a snarl in her lip.
Clearly she is not very much in the holiday spirit!
“Oops, pardon me.”  I say again as I reach over a little boy’s head who spies the perfect gift he wants Santa to bring.
“That’s okay Ma’am” he says politely.

Standing in the checkout line I look at the decorated Christmas clock that hangs on the wall above a display of wooden soldiers. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding rings the bell as the wooden guards go in and out of their little doors. 

Six O’clock already? Time really flies when you’re busy readying for the holidays!

I have been out shopping since nine AM this morning picking up odds and ends and loading the car up with treasures that may or may not be wanted.  I quickly put the last of the goodies in the van and head for home.

I stomp the snow off my boots on the tattered rug while walking through the back door, my arms carefully balancing the packages that have laid in the van all afternoon.  I stumble through the kitchen trying to avoid the dog toys, bed, and bones as the puppy jumps up on the back of my legs. Plopping the packages on the counter I turn to greet the puppy  and my eye catches site of the chewed newspaper, tissues , cloth napkins , and the wood from the  legs of my mother’s heirloom Queen Anne chair!  Off in corner of the living room I see scattered, tattered, torn, and shattered ornaments from the tree!
“Shit!”  I say in a voice loud enough for the pup to not only hear but also pick up my tone of voice. The pup cowers away from me as if I have just booted him in his gut.

 I have been gone ten hours. TEN HOURS!

Such is the holiday season, and with everything we are preparing for, a puppy’s life is sometimes the last thing on our list.

With this in mind I write this for those of you  who got that puppy just before or on Christmas day.

Mark this page or put a favorite on the links because you may need them.

Puppy proof!   

Use a crate! It is not cruel and in fact if you crated the pup it would have kept the puppy from chewing all those non food items hung on the tree and hopefully you will not end up in the ER getting the puppy an operation for a bowel obstruction!
If you feel really bad about crating, pick up a sturdy play pen for dogs.

Cover them! Puppies are notorious for chewing on wires inside and outside the home! This can cause burns to the mouth and excessive drooling and shock. 

Batteries (remote control, kids toys, adult toysJ )
Keep them out of the reach of dogs!
Alkaline batteries: contain potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide and if punctured and these components come in contact with tissue, cell death occurs and can result in ulcers.

Lithium disc batteries when chewed can cause heavy metal poisoning (lead, zinc, mercury cobalt)

All batteries can cause obstruction.

Signs of ingestion may be ulcers in the mouth, black or grey teeth, frequent drooling or swallowing and a painful or bloated abdomen.
Treatment is dilution of the caustic materials and removing the batteries from the intestinal tract. Dilution is given by rinsing the mouth and exposed skin and giving small amounts of lukewarm water by mouth every 10 to 15 minutes.  Bring your dog in so your vet can retrieve the battery from the intestines. The sooner treatment begins the less absorption of heavy metals.

Vomiting should not be induced if the dog ate batteries as this can make corrosive injuries even worse.  The best action is to  visit your vet.


Glass ornaments are always a worry as glass that goes through the system has the potential to cut the intestinal wall causing sepsis and death. Keep in your fridge whole grain bread or in your bathroom Metamucil to give to the dog if you see it has eaten a glass ornament or any sharp object.  IF you have whole grain bread give a few slices, if you have Metamucil go by the directions on the jar and give that.  Either of these  will encase the glass pieces and hopefully carry them safely through the system. If however your dog is showing distress with eating then see your vet right away as there is damage to the esophagus.

Know the different effects that range from white chocolate to dark chocolate because each affects the dog differently. Check out the interactive slide chart for chocolate toxicity. It will tell you the weight of the dog verses the amount of chocolate eaten and give you the symptoms
Toxic Fruit and vegetables that sits on your table!
Keep in mind that puppies will eat everything. Know that grapes and raisins can kill a dog and there is not really a determined amount for any given dog. Dogs have died from eating just a few to a box full. This is an emergency. 

Did you know that the seeds in fruit carry cyanide which can be toxic if ingested?

The top five fruit and veggies that are toxic can be found here: Know the symptoms!
Meat, meat, meat!
Tell you guests to refrain from feeding Fido their left over turkey or ham from their plate or from sneaking them a piece of meat from the kitchen counter. Sure Fido looks pathetic as he stares at them with pleading eyes that say “Please sir, may I have another?”  
Fatty meats, gravy and other foods can cause pancreatitis which is very painful for dogs. This will cause loss of appetite, lethargy vomiting abdominal pain diarrhea fever and weakness. Supportive care with IV fluids will likely be needed by a vet. 

There’s nothing worse than a cooked bone as they splinter when chewed cause damage to the esophagus, can penetrate the lining of the intestines, and cause blockage of the intestines.

Some of the round ham bones have been known to get stuck around the dog’s mouth and have to be sawed off by your vet. Just not a good idea overall.

Macadamia nuts  
From the ASPCA Site
Although macadamia nut toxicosis is unlikely to be fatal in dogs, it can cause very uncomfortable symptoms that may persist for up to 48 hours. Affected dogs develop weakness in their rear legs, appear to be in pain, may have tremors and may develop a low grade fever. Fortunately, these signs will gradually subside over 48 hours, but dogs experiencing more than mild symptoms can benefit from veterinary care, which may include intravenous fluid therapy and pain control.

Ethanol Toxicosis  (alcohol poisoning)
Do you know what’s in that drink that your guest just left on the floor by the side of his foot?  What about that uncooked bread dough on the counter? How about the mouthwash in the bathroom?  Where do you keep your perfume?   All of these contain Ethanol. 

  Symptoms of ethanol poisoning will depend on the type ingested and whether or not there is food in the dog’s stomach. Ethanol depresses the central nervous system and symptoms can be seen within 15 to 30 minutes of ingestion on an empty stomach and up to 2 hours on a full stomach.
Symptoms are urinating or defecating involuntarily, behavior changes ranging from depression to excitement, decrease in body temperature, slow reflexes and flatulence. Advanced signs that can lead to death:  depression, slowed breathing , slowed heart rate, and heart attack. If left untreated ~ death.

HOPS (Beer)

Cultivated hops used for brewing beer have been associated with potentially life-threatening signs in dogs that have ingested them. Both fresh and spent (cooked) hops have been implicated in poisoning dogs. Affected dogs develop an uncontrollably high body temperature (often greater than 108 degrees Fahrenheit), which results in damage to and failure of multiple organ systems. Dogs poisoned by hops become restless, pant excessively, and may have muscle tremors and seizures. Prompt veterinary intervention is necessary to prevent death in these dogs.

Sugar Free drinks (and foods) that contain Xylitol
Xylitol is a non-caloric sweetener that is widely used in sugar-free gum, as well as in sugar-free baked products. In humans, xylitol does not affect blood sugar levels, but in dogs, ingestion of xylitol can lead to a rapid and severe drop in blood sugar levels. Dogs may develop disorientation and seizures within 30 minutes of ingesting xylitol-containing products, or signs may be delayed for several hours. Some dogs that ingest large amounts of xylitol develop liver failure, which can be fatal. All dogs ingesting xylitol-containing products should be examined by a veterinarian immediately.

Garbage Toxicosis
Is your dog a garbage collector? Many foods in the garbage are moldy and this can create illness as moldy foods have toxins called mycotoxins.
(Via ASPCA site)
Moldy Foods
A wide variety of molds grow on food. Some produce toxins called tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can cause serious or even life-threatening problems if ingested by dogs. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to determine whether a particular mold is producing tremorgenic mycotoxins, so the safest rule of thumb is to avoid feeding dogs moldy food. In other words, if you wouldn’t eat it, neither should your dog. Promptly remove any trash or moldy debris (road-kill, fallen walnuts or fruit, etc.) from your dog’s environment to prevent him from eating it. The signs of tremorgenic mycotoxin poisoning generally begin as fine muscle tremors that progress to very coarse total-body tremors and, finally, convulsions that can lead to death in severe cases. Left untreated, these tremors can last for several weeks. Fortunately, they usually respond well to appropriate veterinary treatment.

Holiday Baking
Making bread?  Uncooked bread dough eaten by your dog is an emergency. Bread dough was made to rise when heated in the oven. When this dough comes in contact with the dog’s bodily fluids and warmth of the stomach it will begin to rise and make this a true emergency vet visit.

Marijuana (oh yes, for some this is in the festivities!)
Ingestion of Cannabis sativa by companion animals can result in depression of the central nervous system and incoordination, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased heart rate, and even seizures and coma.  Never be afraid to tell your Vet if your dog has ingested any recreational drug! They are not going to turn you in they are going to treat your dog!

Holiday Plants

Poinsettia~ is not as toxic as people think. Eating this plant will cause stomach upset and vomiting but dogs rarely eat enough of this to cause serious problems. You would actually have to worry if you knew the plant was treated by a pesticide. The brightly colored leaves of the poinsettia contain sap that irritates the mouth and esophagus.

Holly and Mistletoe
Have a great toxicity in their berries and their leaves. Symptoms of illness are intestinal upset , vomiting , diarrhea, excessive drooling and abdominal pain.

Misteltoe contains substances such as toxalbumin and pharatoxin viscumin which will cause serious intestinal upset , severe drop in blood pressure, breathing problems   hallucinations/unusual behavior. If large amounts are eaten it can cause seizures and death. Keep well out of your dog’s reach or out of the home altogether and get the fake plastic stuff.

The Christmas Tree 
Its needles and oils on fur trees can irritate a pet’s mouth and cause severe drooling, upset stomach & vomiting. If eaten, the needles can cause an obstruction of the bowel. 
Also the water that keeps your tree fresh can contain mold, bacteria and fertilizers which can cause illness with only a couple of laps  from you dog.

Christmas Cactus
This is NOT toxic but can cause excessive vomiting or diarrhea


Use 3% hydrogen peroxide - give 1 teaspoon per ten pounds of the dog's body weight.shake the belly and wait 15 to 20 minutes for vomiting to occur

                                        Alternative items for your dog 

These can be found in your local pet store or farm store the links are just to give you a visual of the items.

Nylabone makes a great flavored bone that does not allow large pieces to come off and it can last for months. Link here 

Stuffed Kongs
Stuff an appropriate size Kong with cream cheese and freeze it overnight. This will give your dog long lasting pleasure while you sit down to dinner.

  Buster Cube
Fill this with a little of the dog’s daily kibble  and small treats and let the dog figure out how to get the food out. link here

Don’t have time to run to the pet store to buy the above items?
Grab a large soda or Gatorade/juice bottle and fill that with the dog’s kibble and treats and let them have fun batting that around to get out the goodies.

ASPCA HOT LINE FOR POSIONONG call (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

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