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TRICK OR TREAT-    A SCARY NIGHT FOR ALL!  

  Halloween may hold fun times for humankind but let's face it; this holiday can be a nightmare for pets.  First we dress them up in terribly cute but constricting costumes and elastic covering hats.  Then we fill the air with loud children, doorbells, and party noise.   We leave candy on the table so when we turn our backs they can eat not just one but the whole bowl.   What do we have?  Stress plus candy = vomit and diarrhea – and a likely visit to the veterinary ER. 

 

Costumes: 

   Cute costumes make great holiday photos, but try to avoid elastics that are too tight, they can cause body areas to feel painful and possibly swell.  If you place a rubber band in your pet's hair (for a cute ponytail), don't pull it too tight- it might cause a headache!  In fact, make certain that any clothing you put on your pet is loose and nonrestrictive, form fitting so it won't drag and get caught under the table or someone's shoe. 

 

Party time:

   While your guests are coming and going during trick or treating, it’s often best to create a nervous dog or keep dogs and cats in a closed room while the excitement is high.  Even outside cats should come in- less chance of getting hit by a car.  Ask your veterinarian for a sedative if your pet is extremely anxious during the holiday action. 

 

Poisoning: 

    A problem mostly for dogs, cats aren't that interested in candy.  Sickness results mainly from chocolate and xylitol (especially found in chewing gum) and includes signs of gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea, vomiting and/or restlessness.  Some dogs will eat plastic wrappers and sticks from lollypops that may need to be removed surgically.  Typically, Halloween candy ingestion will involve a visit to the vet ER. 

 

Yes, Halloween isn't as frightening as Fourth of July- but it's probably second place as the scariest holiday.  Take some of the stimulus away during this time- it's in your family pet's best interest!

 

Dr. Dawn Mehra North Idaho Animal Hospital Sandpoint Idaho, www.idahovet.com

 

 

 

CHOCOLATE TOXICITY AND MORE:  CASE OF THE MONTH

 

      Chocolate, America’s most favorite food is abundant in Halloween candy.   Some interesting history:  Cocoa trees produce a sweet pod which surrounds a bitter seed.  The seed, not the pod, is what we ferment, roast, grind, and then press to make the chocolate products we crave.   Seeds are loaded with theobromine and caffeine, the chemicals that make pets ill if too much is ingested. 

  

   The more chocolate liquor there is in a product, the more toxins.  This makes baking chocolate the worst for pets, followed by semisweet and dark chocolate, followed by milk chocolate, then chocolate flavored cakes and cookies.  As a point of reference, a typical Hershey's Chocolate bar weighs 1.5 ounces and can produce symptoms in a 6 pound dog.

  

     

 

The fat and sugar that we add to the chocolate can cause pancreatitis, vomiting, diarrhea and gut pain.  But caffeine and theobromine are the most toxic substances in chocolate.  Too much of them cause hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, racing heart rhythms, blindness and death- in severe cases.  

 

Case of the week:  Stanley, a 60 pound Labrador retriever, staggered into North Idaho Animal Hospital after ingesting a tray of freshly baked brownies while alone in the kitchen.  Interestingly, his heart rate was not elevated nor was his heart beat abnormal.  His only symptom was absolute delirium; he could not stand, walk, or focus on his surroundings.   What's your diagnosis? 

 

Upon further questioning, Stanley’s owner admitted to adding a hefty amount of marijuana to the brownie batch as they were using it “medicinally”.  Stanley had counteracted the normal hyperactivity produced by chocolate with THC from the marijuana.  Luckily, I.V. fluids and a large oral dose of activated charcoal reversed all the symptoms within 12 hours and Stanley wagged his way out the door.

 

     Dr. Dawn Mehra North Idaho Animal Hospital Sandpoint Idaho, www.idahovet.com

 

 

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