CHRISTMAS DANGERS FOR DOGS

Dogs and Christmas dinner

Christmas is a busy time of the year – full of celebrations, indulgence and family time. 

Our pets are part of the family and also want to be part of the fun but it’s important to know of a few things to keep your dog away from at Christmas time.

 
IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR DOG HAS CONSUMED A TOXIC SUBSTANCE, CALL OUR EMERGENCY TEAM  ON  09 320 5645 – WE ARE OPEN 24 HOURS, EVERY DAY

image shows a dog asking for chocolate, which is a toxic food for dogs

1. Chocolate 

Chocolate contains methylxanthines. Methylxanthines are theobromine and caffeine. The caffeine and theobromine cause similar effects, with theobromine’s effects lasting much longer than caffeine. Theobromine causes vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, seizures and a racing heart rhythm which progresses to abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure. The toxicity level depends on four things which your vet is sure to ask you if you need to call them because your dog has eaten chocolate:

The type of chocolate – the darker the chocolate, the more toxin it contains, therefore white chocolate and milk chocolate have lower levels of toxin compared to dark chocolate. Baking chocolate is the exception which contains surprisingly large quantities of this toxin and is the worst type of chocolate for pets. 

The quantity of chocolate they have consumed – The more chocolate they have eaten, the more toxin they have consumed. If you are unsure of how much chocolate was consumed, estimate the largest quantity that they could have eaten based on how much chocolate is missing.

The approximate weight of your pet  – The smaller the pet, the less capacity they have to tolerate the toxin and the more affected they will be.

When did they consume it – If your dog has just eaten the chocolate, there is less chance that the dog’s stomach has had time to absorb the toxin and it may be possible to get the dog to vomit some of the chocolate toxin out in the your vet’s clinic.

If your pet has indulged in some chocolate, it is always advisable to call your veterinarian, or an emergency vet immediately so they can calculate if your dog has consumed a toxic dose and requires immediate hospital care. 

 
IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR DOG HAS CONSUMED A TOXIC SUBSTANCE, CALL OUR EMERGENCY TEAM  ON  09 320 5645 – WE ARE OPEN 24 HOURS, EVERY DAY

Images shows a dog with young boys and a fruit salad. The fruit salad contains grapes, which is a toxic food for dogs

2. Grapes, raisins and currants 

Everyone loves a bit of Christmas pudding or a sneaky mince pie but unfortunately for dogs, grapes, raisins (even seedless), currants and sultanas all contain a substance that is toxic to dogs. This substance can cause sudden kidney failure. 

No one knows exactly what the toxin in these fruits is that makes then deadly to dogs. Symptoms of toxicity are vomiting, diarrhoea, thirst, lethargy, abdominal pain and decreased urine production, and sadly death. Kidney failure can occur within 72 hours without treatment.

It is important to note that these fruits affect different dogs differently. In some dogs, they cause a deadly toxicity from eating a small quantity, whereas other dogs may eat a large amount and are unaffected. Dogs of any size or breed, male or female may be affected, therefore there is no way of predicting if your dog will be seriously affected or not. If your dog has consumed any of these fruits, it is best to call your vet to limit potential effects.  

3. Onions, garlic, chives and leeks

This is a lesser known toxin for dogs but these foods all contain a toxin called organosulfoxides which when eaten release reactive oxidants which are absorbed by the animal. These reactive oxidants cause oxidative hemolysis which means that the red blood cell membranes are damaged. This makes then fragile and causes them to burst.

This lack of red blood cells causes symptoms that demonstrate that your dog’s body is struggling to get enough oxygen to its tissues. These symptoms include weakness, pale gums (anaemia) and tachycardia (fast heart rate). It can also cause signs of digestive upset such as vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

It is important to note that any form of these vegetable causes poisoning, so keep your dog away from all types, cooked, raw, dried, powdered, liquid or minced.

image shows a chihuahua on a table with a glass of red wine. Alcohol is toxic to dogs

4. Alcohol 

Please fo not let your dog get tipsy this Christmas. Dogs are much smaller than us, so the amount of alcohol they can tolerate before becoming dangerously inebriated is much lower than the quantity humans would find dangerous. 

The toxin in alcohol is ethanol which is a central nervous system depressant. Specifically, it disrupts excitatory glutamate neurotransmission. Symptoms of alcohol toxicity in dogs include ataxia (incoordination), leathery, vomiting, weakness, depression, slow breathing, decreased body temperature, collapse and seizures. Just like with humans, excessive alcohol consumption in dogs can cause death.

The key to all toxicities is to contact your veterinary or our emergency service if your regular vet is not open as soon as you realise the your dog has eaten something it shouldn’t have – this means even BEFORE symptoms have developed. 

If the toxin has been eaten recently, your vet may be able to prevent your dog from absorbing all of the toxin. Additionally, if your pet received veterinary care early they may be able to support your dogs body and help it process the toxins without such a severe and possibly permanent effect on the body.

Even if you suspect the quantity of food your dog ate was low, we are always happy to provide advice over the phone to help your decision about bringing your pet to the hospital.

So, that only leaves us to say, Have a wonderful Christmas! Enjoy the choccies, mince pies and a little tipple, but keep them all away from your dogs!

 
OUR EMERGENCY TEAM ARE HERE 24 HOURS A DAY, EVERY DAY. IF YOU NEED EMERGENCY OR OUT OF HOURS VETERINARY HELP CALL US ON  09 320 5645

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