Christmas Time: Deadly For Dogs

December 15, 2015

Christmas Time: Deadly For Dogs

How cute is it when your pet sits at the table like it's people and you set a plate of people food down in front of it to eat then post a picture on Instagram.

Only you've just put down a plate of fruit bread that contains raisins in it. Delicious for you, but when eaten by dogs, raisins can cause dehydration, vomiting, and kidney failure.

We've become so accustomed to treating our pets as part of the family we can forget that, for all their personal quirks, they're actually not humans. Pets, like the animals they are, actually have specific diets that they require if you want them to go on being your pet.

Just because your adorable pets eat anything doesn't mean you can throw them any old food scraps. Like macadamia nuts, chocolate and even your leftover apples.

Macadamias can cause weakness and depression, vomiting and hypothermia; chocolate will bring about vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and abnormal heart rhythms; and apples – the humble apple – contain cyanide in the seeds, which can cause seizures, hyperventilation, and even coma.

As a vet at Sydney Animal Hospitals, Dr Anne Fawcett admits to seeing more animals needing treatment for food poisoning than she would like.

"We would see cases of animals eating things they should not on an almost daily basis. Most commonly we see animals that have overindulged in fatty food, for example sausages or leftovers from the BBQ, which can trigger a condition called Pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas," she said.

"Not only is it painful, it is potentially life-threatening. We also see plenty of dogs eating things that they should not, for example chocolates, sultanas and grapes, foods containing the artificial sweetener xylitol – fine for humans, but it causes liver failure and severe hypoglycaemia in dogs."

According to Dr Fawcett, Christmas is a particularly notorious time for inadvertent poisoning hidden behind a veneer of love.

"Christmas is the worst time for toxicity because there is so much food around and it is usually within the reach of animals".

"It's also a time of year for lots of visitors. Lots of visitors means lots of people with handbags (or man bags) which often contain medication, such as paracetamol or prescription medication. Dogs especially love chewing the pills out of the foil packets and eating the lot, but we have seen cats eating human anti-depressants lately."

And it's not just dogs. Cartoons have a lot to answer for, bringing up generations of children who believe that a bowl of milk is a delicious treat for cats. Cats are quite frequently lactose intolerant, and any human who has had to make a mad dash to the loo post-soft serve knows the agony that this condition can actually bring.


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