Ensuring your pet’s health this holiday season
You might think your four-legged
friends can enjoy the same foods you relish. What dog doesn’t appreciate being tossed a beef fat trimming? Can your cat resist canned tuna fish? Many foods, nutritious for people, can cause pets to experience an upset stomach or much worse. Take a look at this list of no-no’s:
Alcohol. Do not let your dog or cat consume an alcoholic beverage as their systems are not equipped to process alcohol. If ingested, alcohol can cause diarrhea, decreased muscle coordination, vomiting, central nervous system depression, tremors, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death.
Chocolate and Coffee. Cacao seeds and coffee beans contain stimulants. When ingested by Fido or Fluffy, they can cause vomiting, panting, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, seizures, or even death. If a pet accidentally gets into the chocolate, remember white chocolate has the lowest level of stimulants, and milk chocolate is not as harmful as dark chocolate. Baking chocolate is the worst culprit.
Citrus. Every part of a citrus fruit — including seeds, stems, leaves, and peels — can be toxic to dogs. They contain varying amounts of essential oil that can cause irritation and central nervous system depression if ingested in large amounts. However, small doses of the fruit likely will cause no more than minor stomach upset.
Coconut and Coconut Oil. While coconut and coconut-based products will not cause serious problems, they contain oils that may cause dogs to suffer an upset stomach, loose stools, or diarrhea. Furthermore, coconut water is high in potassium and should never be offered to a dog.
Dairy. Because some cats and dogs may be lactose intolerant, milk, cheese, and other dairy-based products can cause flatulence, diarrhea, or digestive upset.
Fat Trimmings. Although pets might not be able to take their eyes off the fat trimmings, these tasty morsels can cause them to suffer from pancreatitis. Refrain from tossing them a tidbit that could damage their pancreas, a necessary organ that aids digestion and regulates hormones. Mild cases of pancreatitis may abate without treatment; severe cases can be life-threatening.
Fish. Be particularly careful about feeding a dog or cat raw salmon and trout. Raw fish can be fatal if the fish is infected with parasites or bacteria. Fully cooked salmon is usually fine as heat kills the bacteria.
Grapes and Raisins. These harmless looking fruits can mean kidney failure for both cats and dogs.
Nuts. Nuts — including almonds, pecans, and walnuts — contain high amounts of oils and fats. These fats can cause a dog to experience vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly pancreatitis. In particular, macadamias can cause dogs to become weak and experience tremors, depression, vomiting, and hyperthermia.
Onions, Garlic, Chives. These seasonings can cause gastrointestinal irritation and can lead to red blood cell damage for both Fido and Fluffy.
Raw or Undercooked Meat, Eggs, and Bones. Raw meat and raw eggs can contain Salmonella and E. coli, which are harmful to pets and humans. While you may want to feed your furry friend raw bones to simulate its natural habitat, don’t do it. Dogs and cats can choke on bones or sustain an injury if the bone becomes lodged in the digestive tract, and chicken bones are known for splintering, which can be fatal if they cut their intestines. Stick to elk antlers or rawhides if your dog wants something to gnaw on.
Salt and Salty Snack Foods. Large amounts of salt can cause excessive thirst and urination or even sodium ion poisoning for pets. Signs of eating too much salt include vomiting, high temperature, diarrhea, and seizures. Large quantities of potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn should be off limits for pets.
Tuna from a Can. Ingested regularly, canned tuna can spell malnutrition for cats as it lacks proper feline nutrients. Also, tuna contains high levels of mercury, which, over time, can adversely affect your cat’s health.
Xylitol. Xylitol is a sweetener additive in baked goods, chewing gum, candy, and toothpaste. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, and seizures. Liver failure can be evident within a few days.
If you think your pet has ingested a toxic material, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435. Remember, cats and dogs have unique nutritional needs. Cats should not eat dog food; dogs should not ingest cat food. For the best nutritional food advice for a cat or dog, visit a local pet food store or consult your veterinarian.