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Archive for Sunday, December 10, 2006

Remember to protect your pets this holiday season

December 10, 2006

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Dangers to pets lurk throughout the house all year, but especially during the holiday season.

Nothing is more attractive to your friendly feline or growing puppy than tinsel glittering in the air just a few feet above the floor. It's a "jump and grab" challenge for a kitten. And don't forget the colorful attraction of Christmas lights, ornaments and other breakable objects.

Make sure decorations are secure and out of reach. You may not be able to save your pet from strangulation or suffocation if its windpipe is filled with tinsel. And don't forget that your kitten bleeds just like you do. We recommend plastic, wood or cloth ornaments - anything that won't shatter.

Other dangers include mistletoe; it might get you a kiss from your best guy or gal, but make sure the branch is securely out of pets' reach. The same precautions apply to poinsettia plants and holly berries: The danger of these plants has sometimes been overstated, but you need to be careful. Your pet could experience digestive irritation if it ingests them. If drooling, vomiting or diarrhea occur after the pet eats such plants, get the animal to the veterinarian right away.

Most of us know that chocolate can be toxic to a dog. It's a stimulant toxin, and its effect would be similar to a caffeine overdose. There could be an increase in the pet's heart rate and body temperature, agitation, even muscle tremors and seizures within four to six hours of consumption. If your big Lab ate a Hershey's Kiss, you wouldn't have much to worry about. But if a little Chihuahua were to get hold of an entire block of chocolate, such symptoms would probably become apparent quickly.

Other foods you should not give pets include grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts and bread dough:

¢ Grapes and raisins can produce kidney disease in some dogs. Signs of ingestion could include lethargy, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Again, if you suspect that your dog has eaten these foods, contact your vet immediately.

¢ Dogs who eat macadamia nuts can get sick within 12 hours. The signs are weakness, wobbliness, increase in body temperature, vomiting and pale mucous membranes. Here, treating the symptoms is all you need to do. Recovery can be expected within 48 hours.

¢ If your pet eats a big chunk of bread dough, you could be in for an emergency. Besides the pain associated with the expansion of dough in the stomach, there is an even more dangerous condition that can occur: The warmth of the stomach can cause the dough to ferment and produce ethanol. That would be kind of like antifreeze poisoning and can cause kidney failure. Signs can be seen within two hours of ingestion, but go to the vet right away.

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