Christmas treats dangerous for pets

Dec 15, 2010
Pet owners can avoid emergency visits to the vet over the holiday season by following a few simple guidelines. Credit: Lara Waldron.

Pet owners could avoid emergency visits to the vet over the holiday season by following a few simple guidelines from the staff of the University of Adelaide's School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.

"The last thing people want for their pets during the holiday season is an emergency," says the Head of School, Professor Gail Anderson.

In order to help and their pets enjoy a happy holiday, here are some things to be aware of:

Chocolate

"Chocolate may be full of antioxidants and good for humans in small doses but it is dangerous for our furry friends," Professor Anderson says.

"Chocolate contains ingredients toxic to dogs, namely theobromine and caffeine. Potentially lethal doses are as little as 7 grams of baking chocolate or 60 grams of milk chocolate per kilogram body weight in dogs. That is as little as a teaspoon per kilo of dark chocolate, so little dogs and pups are at greater risk.

"Signs of toxicity include vomiting and diarrhoea within a few hours of eating the chocolate, increased alertness and hyperactivity, then seizures and increased , with collapse and death possibly resulting within 12-36 hours of eating."

Professor Anderson says urgent treatment in these cases is needed, with hospitalisation and careful monitoring for at least 36 hours in some cases. "Obviously, the best thing is to be vigilant and not leave any chocolate unattended - that includes wrapped under the Christmas tree," she says.

Wrappers, ribbons and tinsel

"Pets eating foreign material such as paper, tinsel and ribbons is common at this time of year," Professor Anderson says. "All these things may appear as toys, especially to young animals or cats, and in their playfulness they may inadvertently swallow pieces of string or tinsel.

"This foreign material does not block the gut immediately but passes into the and can cause the gut to concertina on itself and cause obstruction slowly. The animal will go off food and vomit occasionally until the bowel is completely blocked, when vomiting will occur frequently and illness progresses rapidly."

Professor Anderson says the material must be removed surgically, in most cases requiring hospitalisation, intravenous fluid support and gut protective medications while the gut recovers.

"Being aware of how enticing ribbons, string and tinsel are to pets should make us wary and not allow them to play with these materials," she says.

Explore further: Study shows exception to rule of lifespan for fliers, burrowers and tree dwellers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nice but naughty -- our addiction to chocolate

Sep 11, 2007

Chocolate is the most widely and frequently craved food. People readily admit to being ‘addicted to chocolate’ or willingly label themselves as ‘chocoholics’. A popular explanation for this is that chocolate contains ...

Can chocolate lower your risk of stroke?

Feb 11, 2010

Eating chocolate may lower your risk of having a stroke, according to an analysis of available research that will be released today and presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April ...

Recommended for you

Offspring benefit from mum sending the right message

4 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Researchers have uncovered a previously unforeseen interaction between the sexes which reveals that offspring survival is affected by chemical signals emitted from the females' eggs.

Lemurs match scent of a friend to sound of her voice

18 hours ago

Humans aren't alone in their ability to match a voice to a face—animals such as dogs, horses, crows and monkeys are able to recognize familiar individuals this way too, a growing body of research shows.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jonseer
1 / 5 (1) Dec 16, 2010
60 grams per kilogram!

So a 20lb dog would have to eat 1 full pound of chocolate. Sounds like much ado about nothing. Eating a pound of chocolate isn't easy (unless you're a chocohaulic) especially for a dog. There are 100s of other things a dog would rather eat.

In any case, the author didn't mention the obvious.

It's the "milk" in the chocolate that motivates the dog.

More news stories

Revealing camouflaged bacteria

A research team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has discovered an protein family that plays a central role in the fight against the bacterial pathogen Salmonella within the cells. The so cal ...

EU must take urgent action on invasive species

The EU must take urgent action to halt the spread of invasive species that are threatening native plants and animals across Europe, according to a scientist from Queen's University Belfast.