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What You Need To Know: Holiday Treats

It never fails—during holiday time we see multiple cases of pets sick from eating human holiday food. Often the well-meaning culprit is a holiday guest that just happened to sneak your dog a steak bone or cookie (or two!) from the dessert tray. Cats can also get into trouble. We had a cat that could smell shrimp from a mile away. I had to caution guests not to feed her no matter how loudly she meowed and purred.

Pets that eat table food can wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea, or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. Rich holiday food that causes intestinal distress is bad enough. But it’s also important to remind guest how dangerous it is for dogs to ingest chocolate!

The cocoa tree contains two naturally occurring substances – theobromine and caffeine—both of which are toxic to dogs. Dogs metabolize theobromine very slowly, so it can stay in their bloodstream for up to 20 hours. In your dog’s system, theobromine interferes with their central nervous system, and can affect the heart and kidneys. Depending on the size and condition of your dog, and how much and what kind of chocolate he/she eats, it can be fatal. So please be careful. (Read the full story on toxic foods for pets in our January newsletter.)

It’s a good idea to have your pet’s favorite treats on hand in an easily accessible bowl so guests can give them a safe treat instead of table food. We also recommend that you feed your pet their regular diet and keep up their exercise routine throughout the busy holiday season. (Hmmm- excellent advice for humans as well!) I for one, however, am not giving up chocolate.