Did you ever mimic those kids in the movies or in family sitcoms who didn’t want to eat their dinner and throw their food – not their scraps – under their table to a family pet anxiously awaiting a treat?
Later scenes in those shows usually focus on the disobedient kids and don’t often show what happens to the family pets.
Probably wasn’t good. Rover likely had one nasty bellyache.
Beginning in the fall, sweets and treats take over our homes: from Halloween with all its glorious preparations and leftovers, to stuffing ourselves on Mass Turkey Homicide Day, with more leftovers for days on end, to holiday parties and goodies as gifts and yes, even more leftovers around Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and New Year’s.
Oh the temptation to overindulge. But we know January is coming and we all will run to the gym to take care of that extra junk in our trunk.
But what about our pets who must smell the sweet potato casserole sitting out on the Thanksgiving Day buffet and the pumpkin pie with the whipped creme sitting out on the china server, surrounded by the family’s best china, and yes, the scraps that are hanging out in the trash can under the sink. Don’t forget the pitcher of sweet creme for the after-dinner espresso hanging around the pie.
Hazards abound as we get busy, full and yes, perhaps careless as our schedules and eating habits change.
But what is it about turkey and chocolate that present such dangers for our furry friends? Why can’t Geneva have just an itty bitty piece of dark chocolate? Is has antioxidants, right? Canine cancer is a big concern. We lost Clyde to osteosarcoma at a fairly early age.
Well, dogs are more sensitive than other creatures to stimulants like chocolate. And since there are so many varieties of chocolate – from milk to dark – as well as percentages within those categories – buy 74 percent dark chocolate to earn any antioxidant benefits – it’s difficult to assess what they’ve eaten as far as ingredients unless you can access the wrapper.
Suffice it to say, theobromine is the key culprit. Ingestion for Rover means gastro, cardio and even neurological distress. Baking and dark chocolate appear to contain the most theobromine, which means we need to be careful when baking, too, not just when we place our baked goods out on decorative platters or gift baskets.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers a host of safety tips for our companion animals during the holiday season. A couple dietary tips include:
- do not let them eat cake! raw eggs can lead to salmonella buildup, which leads to food poisoning
- ditto on bread dough
- no sage! tasty in our dressing, but toxic to dogs
- turkey is OK, just not a lot, not raw, and without bones
- remember, raisins are grapes and grapes are ultra-dangerous; as few as 7 can send a dog into intestinal distress
We all want to show extra affection for our animals as we celebrate the holidays and as humans, we show that affection through food. Well, the ASPCA recommends – if you must – trying appropriate treats made for dog and cat and fish and bird and whatever else is in your menagerie. Does not have to be human food. And, they recommend, not a lot of anything new. Don’t want to cause any type of intestinal distress, which, if severe enough can lead to pancreatitis. All over a bit of chocolate from a kind heart. See the dietary information pages for more information.
If you think one of your critters has dug into a toxic substance, contact your local veterinarian or veterinary emergency hospital immediately. Consider a consultation with the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC): Call (888) 426-4435.
This service is offered through the ASPCA. With a single phone call and $60, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist will listen to your description of the symptoms and possible toxins and advise both you and your regular veterinarian how to treat the symptoms, both immediately and long-term. Be sure to check the ASPCA site regularly during the holidays for additional information.