MARCH 17-23: ANIMAL POISON PREVENTION WEEK
Chocolate, Grapes & Raisins, and XYLITOL! Oh My!
I often find great amusement in the many wacky and bizarre monthly or weekly or day-specific “national days” that we have in the U.S, with a particularly odd affection for National “Talk Like a Pirate Day” on Sept 19 and “Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day” (Aug 8) ~ put them in your Google calendar now!
As I write this on February 20, today is happily “Love Your Pet Day”, shared with “Cherry Pie Day” and “Hoodie Hoo Day.” That’s when people go outside at noon and wave their hands over their heads and chant “Hoodie Hoo” to chase away the winter blues! It’s an optimistic strategy on this raw, dreary, wet, cold Wednesday.
I could go on and on, but I actually have a very serious topic to discuss that definitely merits a “National Week”: March 17-23 is Animal Poison Prevention Week. Today I will discuss only food sources, knowing full well that many plants as well as household hazards (such as antifreeze) can be highly toxic and deadly to pets. *** An excellent resource for more complete information is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s (APCC) free mobile app giving you fast access to hundreds of different potentially toxic substances: food, medications, plants and household hazards. Download it for free. ***
It’s important to understand that “dose makes the poison”! And since every human and every animal has their own unique biology and physiology, the dose that triggers reactions or problems will vary greatly between individuals. Fortunately, most pet owners are aware of the potential dangers of giving CHOCOLATE to dogs. Be aware that DARK CHOCOLATE is much riskier than milk chocolate since there is much more cocoa, with its toxic-to-dogs compound called “theobromine.”
Many dog owners are also aware of the potential dangers of GRAPES and RAISINS and the potential for deadly kidney failure. Not all dogs are affected by grapes or raisins, but why take an unnecessary risk? Simply never give grapes or raisins to ANY dog or cat!
The one human ingredient that many pet owners are not aware of is XYLITOL. What is Xylitol? It is an artificial sweetener that is often found in sugarless gum, candy, mints, and toothpaste. Today, more and more sugar-free products, such as peanut butter, contain Xylitol. In dogs, Xylitol can cause a sudden, dramatic drop in blood sugar as well as severe liver damage. With Xylitol showing up in more food products, take a moment to read food ingredient labels before offering your pet a human product as a treat, or even better, give your dog carrots, zucchini, green beans or other vegetables as a treat.
While most pet owners wouldn’t think of freely giving their dogs Onions, know that onions can be toxic to dogs and even more dangerous to cats. Garlic is botanically different from onions, and not likely to cause problems, but still best to avoid it.
Avocados may cause intestinal upset (vomiting and/or diarrhea), so don’t give it to dogs.
Walnuts and Macadamia nuts, while not common in most homes, should be avoided in dogs.
Milk and Dairy (and yes, this includes ice cream) while not poisonous to dogs or cats, should be avoided since neither cats nor dogs are able to digest them well, which can result in diarrhea and intestinal discomfort.
For those who love to bake, Yeast Dough can cause painful gas and bloating if ingested. Since yeast also produces ethanol (alcohol) as a by-product, dogs ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk.
Many cases of food toxicity in pets are purely accidental, with dogs famously grabbing a pack of sugarless gum or a plate of chocolate brownies off a counter top or table. You know your dog’s habits, so if there is any risk of them getting access to things they should not have, think before stepping away from the kitchen or leaving some ‘temptation’ within reach.
If you should have the misfortune of experiencing any potential poisoning concerns, take your pet immediately to the nearest veterinary hospital or pet emergency clinic.
Other days or weeks (and I am not making these up!) that are celebrated are “National Karaoke Week” (4th week of April) … “Square Dance Day” (Nov 29) … “Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day” (April 12) … “Have a Bad Day Day” (Nov 19) … “National Tooth Fairy Day” (Feb 28) … “Rubber Eraser Day” (April 15) for those fudging their taxes? … “National Bubba Day” (June 2) …. “Be A Dork Day” and “Cow Appreciation Day” (July 15) …