Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 27, 2013

Help pets stay healthy this holiday season, too

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — While Fido may be a pro at making big “feed me, I'm starving” eyes, animal care professionals remind people that sharing their Thanksgiving mean is more harmful than not.

“Be brave and look the other way,” advised Chris Holcomb, office manager of the Cherokee Animal Clinic in Rusk. “Those things we eat may taste yummy, but they can also cause problems for our pets, so you want to watch their diets as closely as you do your own.”

ASPCA.org lists people-friendly foods that will wreak havok on your pet's health, including:

• Chocolate, coffee and caffeine, which methylxanthines. “When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures,” even death.

• Alcoholic beverages and food products also “cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.

• Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark “contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.” Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart, and some ingestions can be fatal, the site states.

• Macadamia nuts, when consumed by dogs, “have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.”

• Grapes and raisins. While the toxic substance in these fruits are unknown, they can cause contribute to kidney failure, according to the site.

• Yeast dough can rise inside an animal's digestive system and cause gas to accumulate, resulting in pain, or even rupturing the animal's intestine. “Because the risk diminishes after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats (but no more) than five to 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.”

• Raw/undercooked meat, eggs and bones – all of which contain the bacterias Salmonella and E. coli, both harmful to pets. Additionally, “raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems,” while for domestic pets, raw bones may cause choking or “grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture” the animal's digestive tract.

• Xylitol – a sweetener found in products like gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste – can “cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. … Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.”

• Onions, garlic and chives are probably the most commonly used produce to enhance food, but in an animal, gastrointestinal irritation may result, as can red blood cell damage. “Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed,” the site states.

• Milk – “Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.”

• Salt – Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets, and a pet owner can tell if an animal has eaten too many salty foods when he observes vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death, according to the site.

Holcomb also advised to watch Fido's intake of high-fat foods, like ham or certain cuts of turkey.

“Probably the number one danger is high-fat foods, which can cause pancreatis, something we see around the holidays,” she said. “So, no gravy or desserts or butter – seasonings like onion powder in food can cause a sudden onset of anemia in dogs and cats.”

Pet owners also need to be mindful of waste products, too.

“You know, those things that people don't think about, like the strings used to secure the turkey as it's baking, or skewers and bags used for cooking meat – a dog can smell them and dig them out of the trash to eat them, which poses a real danger to him,” she said.

However not all foods are harmful, Holcomb said.

“If people really want to give their pet a treat, think about canned green beans and carrots, which are safe and low in fat and in salt,” she suggested. “And small amounts of pumpkin also are okay because it's a food low in fat and it doesn't cause trauma (to an animal's digestive system).”

Pet lover Leanne Janek Torpey of League City shares the healthy treat her family prepares for their pooches:

Nala's pumpkin-applesauce dog cookies

1½ cups flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

3 tablespoons applesauce

1 egg

½ cup pumpkin

1 tablespoon molasses

½ cup chicken broth

Mix all together, drop by teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet, one inch apart.

Bake at 400˚ F for 12-15 minutes, turn off oven and let set in oven for 2 hours or over night.

Yummy!! And Nala approved.