2012-12-05 / Front Page

Warning…Holiday Treats Can Be Fatal To Fido

By Liz Goff

Pet owners who are tempted to share holiday goodies with their furry friends are reminded that those cookies, candy and other treats might be deadly to cats and dogs, officials at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) said.

“Some people treat their pets like they are members of the family,” the officials said. “That’s great, but you have to remember they are a different breed with different digestive systems and nutritional guidelines.

“We have to be aware that some human foods can be harmful to pets, some can be dangerous – and others are deadly,” officials said.

Many pets accidentally ingest chocolate candy during the holiday season, officials said. “Remember to keep chocolates out of the reach of cats and dogs this holiday season, because the cocoa content in these products can cause a heart attack,” the officials said.

Chocolate also contains theocroine, a bitter alkaloid from the cacao plant that is toxic to dogs and puppies, officials said. “Canine hearts are more than 100 times more sensitive to this alkaloid than ours.”

Officials are also warning pet owners to keep all products containing Xylitol out of the reach of cats and dogs. The natural sweetener can cause low blood sugar in puppies and dogs, resulting in dehydration, loss of coordination, seizures and kidney failure – even when digested in low doses, ASPCA officials said.

Owners are advised to seek immediate medical attention iff your pet ingests chocolate or Xylitol. Depending on the amount of the substance ingested, pets could need treatment to induce vomiting, or the vet may have to pump the pooch’s stomach to properly remove the toxic agent, the officials said. In cases where a small amount of the agent was ingested, your vet (or an emergency veterinarian) would likely prescribe medication to help your cat or dog with digestion.

On another note, ASPCA officials are urging pet lovers to make sure they’re ready before putting a pet under the tree.

Whether you’re itching for an iguana or praying to find a puppy under your Christmas tree, ASPCA officials are urging shoppers to consider the responsibilities of pet ownership before wrapping up that warm, cuddly critter.

While the gift of a puppy or kitten is sure to add fun to Christmas, it’s important to remember that the furry companions come with a list of needs that don’t disappear when you take down the tree.

Pet ownership can be one of the most rewarding and educational in the life of a child – or adult. But it is important to remember that puppies and kittens are not toys that can be ignored when no one is in the mood to care for them.

Before you buy a pet or adopt one from a rescue group or shelter, take time to learn the basics about the breed you have chosen and consider the following:

  • How large will the dog grow – and do you have room for it?
  • Are you concerned that a kitten will scratch and tear furniture?
  • Remember, all pets require some amount of care. Even goldfish need someone they can rely on
  • If you can’t bear to be separated from your pet, Toys and Teacup puppies fit nicely into large purses and “doggie bags.”
  • Is the dog housebroken? If not, how do you housebreak a puppy?
  • Remember, small breed dogs require less exercise. One daily walk will be enough to satisfy these small pups
  • Small breeds are actually great watchdogs that will alert you if someone approaches your doors, windows or is anywhere on your property
  • Is anyone in your household allergic to pets?
  • Toys and Teacup dogs don’t shed, and they might be more gentle on family members who suffer with allergies
  • Remember, too, that rough handling by toddlers could pose a risk to dogs that weigh only 5-to-10 pounds
  • Does anyone have a medical condition that would be aggravated by a pet?
  • If you’re concerned with security, buy a breed that is born to protect
  • Will the pet shed its hair all over your house (and you)?
  • Talk about health care. Mixed breed dogs generally require fewer trips to the vet.
  • If you have kids, ask if the breed is known to be “good” with young children.
  • Does the puppy or kitten of your choice have a clean bill of health?
  • Does it have the necessary shots, i.e.: rabies, distemper, etc.?
  • Ask about spaying. Most shelters will provide free neutering of pets.

Parents should also ask themselves if they really believe their offspring can handle the long-term obligation of pet ownership. Young children can’t be expected to understand the obligation, so make sure you are ready and willing to care for the puppy or kitten. 

Make your child part of the pet care process, experts said. Let youngsters feed pets, fill water bowls, leash the pet before walking it, brush and play with the pet to make it a part of the family.

With the current state of the economy, you have to ask yourself if you can afford to keep a pet. Is food and health care of the pet within your budget? Too many people buy a pet, only to suffer heartbreak when they realize the financial burden is out of their reach and they are forced to give up the pet.

Remember, shelters are overwhelmed after the holidays, with animals they receive from well-meaning people who buy pets before they think about the responsibilities of pet ownership.

For your sake, as well as the sake of your children and that warm, cuddly puppy or kitten, think before you put a pet under your tree, ASPCA officials said.

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