Monday, December 15, 2008

Top Ten HOWLiday Safety Tips: Day 3

TIP #3: Food Frights
Despite your dog’s willingness --- or should I say insistence? --- about pulling up a chair to join you for your annual holiday meal, think twice about sharing… especially if they don't regularly get table scraps during the rest of the year. Most traditional holiday foods are far too rich and spicy for pets, triggering gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting, and bouts of diarrhea.

Even stripped-down bones should be off limits. Poultry and ham bones can easily splinter and lodge in the throat, gums or the roof of the mouth; they can also cause extensive damage to the stomach and GI tract, puncturing the small intestines and creating a life-threatening or fatal situation. A good rule to follow is: "If in doubt, throw it out"!

The same caveats apply to desserts and snacks. It’s not just an “old wives’ tale” that chocolate is dangerous for dogs. In fact, depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, it can be toxic or even fatal. Semisweet, also known as "baker’s” chocolate, contains extremely high levels of caffeine and theobromine; as little as ½ ounce per pound of body weight can stimulate your pet’s heart and nervous system with lethal results. And while milk chocolate is less toxic to pets, its high fat content can lead to unpleasant attacks of pancreatitis.

A satisfying portion of his regular food served just before your feasting begins should reduce your dog’s inclination to beg for food. Be sure to reinforce the “no people food” rule to your family and friends; don’t give in no matter how cute, hungry or deprived your pet looks… or how “mean” you feel!

Lest you be called "Grinch" by your pooch and his pals, invite your festive Fido to participate in the holiday food fantasy and feeding frenzy by patronizing your town’s local pet bakeries or boutiques for special, pet-safe holiday treats. And for those "do-it-yourselfers", log in tomorrow for a quick & easy holiday biscuit recipe that is sure to delight even the most discriminating doggy's palate!

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