While many pet owners are tempted to treat their little ones with sweet treats during the holiday season, veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker says it could end up damaging the animal's health.
Becker says pets have the same weight related health problems as people, including an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney problems and cancer. In fact, Becker says one out of two pets in America is overweight and one out of four is obese.
If owners can't resist giving pets treats or food from the table, Becker suggests they stop and think about the harm they could be causing to the pet's health.
While humans can digest chocolate with no problem, animals are not meant to eat it. Since chocolate contains theobromine, an ingredient similar to caffeine, the sweet treat could cause a dog to have a "buzz." If ingested in large enough amounts it could cause heart arrhythmias or in severe cases, death.
Anaother danger could be in cookies. Many cookies contain raisins, which have recently been associated with renal failure in dogs. Becker says the mechanism or exact reason is unknown.
Another possibly risky ingredient is macadamia nuts, said Becker. Dogs can develop severe rear leg weakness and appear to be paralyzed after ingesting the nuts, says Becker. While such an occurrence is frightening for the owner and the dog, Becker says the symptoms seem to go away on their own.
If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, Becker suggests contacting the local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 (www.apcc.aspca.org).
And when it comes to your scrumptious turkey or chicken dinner, you shouldn't be so quick to share table scraps with your pet. If bones are present they could splinter and cause intestinal blockage or internal lacerations in your pet.
While there are quite a few dangerous items for pets in family refrigerators, some everyday food items are perfectly safe.
Becker recommends baby carrots because they are sweet and crunchy.
Becker says dogs also like frozen string beans for dogs. He suggests cutting fresh beans in half before sticking them in a baggie in the freezer. Take them out as needed.
Becker also suggests the following treats that are made especially for dogs and cats:
Liv-a-Littles Dog & Cat Treats: These can be found in most pet stores or they can be bought online. Becker says these freeze dried meat treats provide all the goodness of fresh meat, chicken and fish without the mess.