Ask Seth: Keeping my dog healthy during the holidays

What can I do to keep my dog from eating something that may make her sick during the holidays?

Dear Seth,

With the holidays coming, what can I do to protect my Labrador, Snickers from eating something that may make her sick?

Angela from Pittsburgh , PA

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With the holidays fast approaching, here are a few things you need to know about the hazards of holiday season. A common rule of thumb is if you think your dog might eat a plant move it higher or choose a plant not on the list of poisonous plants on the animal poison control web site. Despite popular belief, poinsettias are not on the list and usually have mild side effects. Mistletoe and Holly both made the list and should be placed high enough so animals and infants cannot ingest. Lilies can cause acute kidney failure in as little as 48 hours. If you think your animal ate something it shouldn’t have, contact your veterinarian immediately. Even though your animal does not appear sick at that time, they may become extremely sick quickly. The earlier it is treated, the better the chances you have for a recovery.

Dogs will generally eat anything. A common issue arises when someone goes to take their medications, drops a pill and the dog eats it. Also, people leave out medications on the table or countertop and the dog gets into it. These situations must be considered dangerous. Ibuprofen (Advil) can cause kidney damage and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can cause anemia and liver damage. Grapes, raisins, onions and garlic all have recently been associated with acute kidney failure.

Candies and chocolate can bring their own dangers. Candies can cause problems and depends on the ingredients. Sugar-free candy (usually gum) contains Xylitol which can create immediate dangers with low blood sugar and seizures. The well known holiday culprit is chocolate. Chocolate has two ingredients that when consumed by dogs, usually in large amounts, can be very dangerous. Theobromine is a chemical that affects the heart, kidneys and central nervous system. Caffeine is also present in chocolate and can create similar symptoms. Bakers’ chocolate contains much more of these ingredients than milk chocolate and any ingestion of bakers’ chocolate is considered a veterinary emergency. If your animal gets into anything, including some milk chocolate, contact your veterinarian.

Seth Mayersohn, CVT

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