Human Holiday Treats Not Meant For Pets

December 23, 2016 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

To wrap up our pet holiday tips, let’s take a look at those treats that we love but that can be a real threat to our pet’s health. The most popular found at this season’s celebrations are chocolate, candy and baked goods, and alcohol.


Holidays and chocolate seem to go together. But, there is one place chocolate should never be and that’s in your dog. Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound in the same family as caffeine. In certain quantities, theobromine is toxic to dogs. Chocolate toxicity depends on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, your pet’s body weight, and whether your pup happens to be extra-sensitive to theobromine.  Theobromine toxicity can cause a variety of symptoms, from mild to severe, including vomiting, diarrhea, fast heart rate, restlessness, hyperactivity, increased urination, muscle spasms, and seizures.


The seemingly harmless sugar-free red and white mints you bought for your diabetic grandparent can cause life-threatening problems for your pet if the mints contain xylitol.  Xylitol, an increasingly popular sugar alcohol sweetener, is found in food items such as candy, gum, and baked goods, and personal hygiene products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash. Symptoms occur quickly after dogs eat xylitol-containing items.  Vomiting is generally the first symptom, followed by those associated with the sudden lowering of blood sugar (hypoglycemia), such as decreased activity, weakness, staggering, collapse, and seizures.  Some dogs develop more severe complications, including liver failure, bleeding disorders, and death.


Alcohol is another potentially harmful human treat.  Pets that consume alcohol can develop serious problems depending on how much they drink.  The most common symptoms in pets associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages are vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, decreased activity, difficulty breathing, and shaking.  In severe cases, coma and death from respiratory failure occur.


If you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate, xylitol-containing items, or alcohol, call us so we can discuss an observation or action plan.

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