Toxic Treats to Avoid

By Dr Benjamin J Graham

While sitting down with friends and family to eat and drink this Christmas, it is important to be aware which foods are dangerous for pets.

What is a tasty treat for us, can cause toxicities or diseases in our beloved pets. Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) is a very common cause of unwell pets and it is most often caused by an overdose of fat.

THINGS TO AVOID
Fatty offcuts, ham leftovers and turkey stuffing can all cause severe and potentially lifethreatening illness in dogs. Just one sausage for an 8kg dog can be the equivalent of a tensausage ‘snack’ for an 80kg person! The same goes for a rasher of bacon or a biscuit.

Common culprits of toxicities include macadamia nuts, onion, garlic, chocolate, alcohol, avocado, xylitol (an artificial sweetener), grapes, raisins, and sultanas.

Symptoms can include lethargy, diarrhoea, vomiting, seizures, collapse, coma, pale or purple gums, red injected gums, wobbly gait, head or muscle tremors, eye tremors (nystagmus), red urine and difficulty breathing.

The chance of survival following ingestion of a toxic substance decreases as time to treatment increases. If you have concerns that your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t have, get them to your vet as soon as possible.

KEEPING COOL
Our pets wear the same outfit through summer as they do in winter so we need to keep them comfortable and healthy through the hot days.

• Clipping: Reducing that heavy coat is an easy way to help pets stay cool. They will also dry off faster after a bath or playing in the sprinklers.

• Shade: Swimming and playing under the garden hose is a great way to cool our pets off, we just have to let them dry off in the shade. Letting them lie in the sun can result in overheating.

• Cold food: Freezing dog food, lean meat, or water is a fun way to keep your dog entertained and cool. It’s impressive how quickly a dog can demolish a large block of ice when the sun’s out!

• Exercise: Taking walks during the evening will reduce the chance of burnt pads. Your dog’s feet will burn as easily as your hands on hot concrete. Bad burning will result in sloughing of the pads on their feet, infection and worse.

• Ice packs: An ice pack wrapped in a wet towel will provide a cool place for your pet to lie down as will a paddle pool or half clam shell filled with water.

• Car Trips: Pets can easily overheat in the car, even with the aircon blasting. Stress, inability to move around, and direct sunlight all contribute to a very hot, and potentially ill pet. Ensure they can safely move into different positions and have ready access to an air conditioning vent. A cracked window can help, and regular stops for wee breaks and to drink some cool water are a must. Don’t leave your pet in the car, they can overheat, become ill, and even die.

Vet Dr Graham is from BVSC South Windsor www.bvsc.sydney

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