Pet Health Hospital

Pets During The Holidays

Ziggy

Christmas and the holiday season can be exciting and wonderful for your pets, as they understand the excitement of the day.  During the holiday season, please remember a few important tips, primarily that wrapping food such as candy and chocolates and placing them unattended under a tree is inviting trouble for your pets, as they can easily smell through the wrapping paper that there is something edible inside.  Not only are you inviting your pet to rip open your carefully wrapped gift when you are not watching, but also bear in mind that sweet treats that are so abundant at the holiday season are not good for you pets.  Eating too much of anything sweet is not very good for your pet, however eating chocolate in large amounts can actually be lethal to dogs.

Most people have probably heard about chocolate being poisonous to dogs, and although it is not nearly as common as you would think, there is actually a level of chocolate consumption that can prove lethal to your pet.  Most people do not understand why they can eat chocolate with no problem, yet their pet cannot.  The answer comes in the makeup of the body, and how yours is different than your dog’s.  The problem is a chemical called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine.  Theobromine is poisonous to dogs if they consume more than 100 or so milligrams per kilogram of body weight.  Different types of chocolate have different levels of theobromine.  Around 20 ounces of milk chocolate can kill a 20 pound dog, whereas 2 ounces of baker’s chocolate or 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate will have the same effect.  Around the holidays, when we typically have gifts filled with pounds of chocolate, this can prove to be a tempting and deadly combination for dogs, who only know that there is something very sweet and good tasting inside of this package.  Quite simply, they do not know any better, and will generally eat chocolate until they begin to throw up or run out.

Understanding toxicity levels of chemicals on the body is easy to understand by looking at the caffeine comparison to people.  If you ingested 100 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of your body weight, the effects could be lethal to you.  People will generally weight much more than animals, so the ability to consume that level of a potentially toxic substance is reduced.  To your dog, however who is far lighter than you and does not understand what he is doing, the need to protect them from these potential situations is crucial.

If you are giving chocolate or sweets as gifts this year, do not place them on the floor under a tree and unsupervised at any time.  Keep them away from your pets at all times, and make the holiday a happy one for everyone.  Nothing can ruin a holiday faster than an emergency trip to the veterinarian!