As you plan your shopping list for your holiday menu, be sure to check your supply of hydrogen peroxide because some of the foods you prepare may be dangerous to your dog. If your fur baby accidentally ingests something potentially hazardous, you may need to induce vomiting to prevent further harm. To prepare for this alarming scenario, know what foods to keep away from your dog, have emergency numbers at the ready, and have the tools you’ll need to give first aid. This can help you prevent a tragedy from ruining your celebration.
What Must be Kept Away from Dogs
Cinnamon is one ingredient added to a variety of holiday baked goods and desserts. Small amounts of this popular spice can irritate a dog’s mouth. Too much can lower its blood sugar level, increase its heartrate, and cause diarrhea and vomiting. As with many other spices, cinnamon can trigger fits of choking, coughing, and difficulty breathing if inhaled by the animal.
Another ingredient for disaster is chocolate. The stimulants it contains are toxic to dogs because they can halt a dog’s metabolism. When this happens, the dog’s physical ability to function is in jeopardy. Chocolate can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and irregularities in the heart. Not every dog can survive eating chocolate. While no chocolate is safe for dogs, dark chocolate is more dangerous for them.
Setting out dishes of nuts for guests is common at gatherings. Cashews and unsalted peanuts are okay for dogs to have in moderation, but many nuts are not. Most are a choking hazard. Almonds can be sharp enough to catch in the esophagus and even tear it. Macadamia nuts adversely affect the nervous system. They can prevent a dog from walking and cause lethargy, vomiting, and an increased body temperature. Walnuts and pecans also cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Many nuts are salted, and salty snacks can be too much for dogs to handle. We know salt makes us thirsty and causes water retention. Dogs experience these symptoms too; overeating salty foods can cause dogs to run a high temperature, vomit, and experience diarrhea. Seizures and even death can occur from a dog ingesting too much salt. Keep in mind how salty ham is before letting your pet indulge in it. A small piece of ham is fine to give as a treat, but go no further than that.
A variety of low-fat cheeses can be a great treat for dogs to have now and again, but that doesn’t mean your dog will be able to safely digest other dairy products. Their bodies are unable to properly break down lactose, which often leads to an upset stomach and diarrhea.
If you are cooking a turkey, you may share with your dog a skinless, unseasoned, fully-cooked piece of it that has been trimmed of fat. Remove all bones as well. Bones can easily splinter. They may puncture the dog’s esophagus and digestive tract.
Finally, keep all alcohol away from your pets. Beer and other spirits can quickly intoxicate a dog. As with people, the alcohol can depress the animal’s nervous system, causing a loss of coordination. In addition to causing diarrhea and vomiting, it can trigger tremors and even a coma. Death can be a real risk for a dog that’s ingested alcohol.
Contacting Help in an Emergency
If you know for a fact or even suspect that your dog has had anything potentially dangerous to eat or drink, call a professional immediately. Don’t wait for symptoms to show; it could be too late to help by then. The veterinarian will want to know what has been ingested, how much of it, and how much time has passed. The professional will guide you in what steps to take. You may be able to handle the situation without leaving home, but some circumstances will require veterinary care.
It’s the holiday season. Your vet may not have the same office hours that you’re used to throughout the year. Now is the time to call ahead to find out how to contact your vet should an after-hours emergency arise. You should also have information for a 24-hour emergency pet clinic in your area. Keep posted the number for the ASPCA’s poison control hotline, too.
Not all situations will require you to induce vomiting. First of all, there are some breeds like pugs and bulldogs that are at risk of inhaling vomit into their lungs because of how their faces are shaped. Some substances can cause additional harm in any dog should it travel through the esophagus a second time. This is why it is imperative that a veterinarian be contacted immediately in an emergency.
Should the veterinarian need to talk you through inducing vomiting, you’ll want to have the necessary supplies to carry out the process. A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide with a 3% solution is ideal for this. You may have to use a turkey baster if you don’t have a feeding syringe. This will be used to squirt the hydrogen peroxide into your dog’s mouth. The amount you use will depend on your dog’s size. If you have never seen this process before, search online for demonstration videos. They will boost your self-confidence should you have to perform the maneuver under your vet’s direction.
Remember you are inducing vomiting, so the goal is to have your dog vomit. Do what you can to mitigate the mess. Try to have it happen on a surface that will be easy to clean. Also know the vomiting may continue for more than 30 minutes.
Prevention is key to keeping your dog safe throughout the holidays. Dogs get creative in their search for delicious smells. Watch the accessibility of foods on countertops and tables. Keep the trashcan out of reach. Beware of leaving out any gifts that your dog could get into.
Don’t let an accident with your pet be the holiday incident you remember.