NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

November 8, 2013

Paw Prints: Holidays bring digestive dangers

It’s happy holiday season again. The fun and festivities bring food and, right behind, Fido and Fluffy. That’s right, your pets have no idea why you’re celebrating, but they can smell the delicious bounty, and they’re delighted to invite themselves.

Halloween haunted our streets last week, but now it’s time to beware of other dangers lurking nearby. Leftover candies and chocolates may be perilously within reach of a four-legged thief. Dogs have a sweet tooth, and many will happily help themselves to a treat. Wrappers are no deterrent and will often be consumed with their tasty contents.

Interestingly, cats cannot taste sweet and are rarely tempted by Halloween treats.

Chocolate poisoning is a well-known danger for dogs. The risk depends on several factors, including how much your dog weighs, how much chocolate was consumed, how dark the chocolate was and Fido’s other health issues. In general, the smaller the dog and the darker the chocolate, the greater the risk of chocolate poisoning.

If your pooch devoured a candy bar with just a thin coating of milk chocolate, he may have avoided chocolate poisoning, but he’s not out of the woods. Treats can be tricky for pets. Inside that thin layer of milk chocolate is sweet, greasy candy, and lots of it. An overindulgence of sugar and fat can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Symptoms may be mild with decreased appetite, or severe with fulminant pancreatitis and ulcerated, hemorrhagic bowels. These patients can become very sick very quickly and often need supportive hospital care to survive.

Thanksgiving beckons us in a few weeks. The delicious aroma of a roast turkey dinner tempts even the best-behaved pet. Cats and dogs beg, drool, perform and whimper. If all else fails, thievery is a last resort. Whatever it takes, they want some of that scrumptious dinner, too.

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