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Holidays and Chocolates

The holiday turkey with all the trimmings is a feast for the family but may be poison for its pets, warn Minnesota veterinarians.

Each year during the holidays, veterinarians report an increase in animals with gastrointestinal distress. They are victims of the family feast - victims of the table scraps, stolen snacks or garbage can raids.

Turkey, particularly the bones, and highly seasoned foods like dressing are dangerous for animals. These culprits can damage the intestinal walls. The bones can lodge in the colon and become an impacted mass that blocks the bowel.

Signs of trouble are vomiting and diarrhea. The animal is in extreme discomfort and danger. The veterinarian or animal emergency service should be called immediately. They will want to know what the animal ate, how much and what symptoms it is exhibiting. In most cases, prompt treatment will bring recovery in a few days.

A few simple precautions will prevent problems. Festivities and food preparations may preoccupy pet owners, so they probably pay less attention to their animals. Food left unattended or carelessly placed in garbage cans is an irresistible temptation to the animals.

Chocolate Poisons Dogs and Cats

The traditional box of Christmas candy, chocolate Santas and other chocolate treats sweeten the holiday season. But they are poisonous for pets.

The livers of dogs and cats cannot handle theobromine, an ingredient in all chocolate. One pound of chocolate, for example, has five-to-six times more theobromine than an average dog can tolerate. Chocolate also contains caffeine (a stimulant like theobromine) and theophylline (a decongestant). Both can damage animals. Their livers lack the enzymes to break down these elements.

The best course is to keep chocolate away from pets.

If an animal happens to eat chocolate, it may have such symptoms as vomiting and diarrhea and even seizures. These symptoms may develop slowly, over several hours, as the ìpoisonsî are absorbed.

Veterinarian or animal emergency service should be called immediately. In the meantime, absorption can be slowed by giving the animal the same kind of charcoal preparation available in drug stores for human use.

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Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association
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