May is Responsible Animal Guardian Month
Most of us with animals know that being responsible for…
1. Diet treats: It may seem like a nice health-conscious idea to offer sugar-free candy, gum and cookies flavored with Xylitol, but don’t. And be sure to check your child’s bag for such treats and make sure they’re out of your pets’ reach. Xylitol can cause a radical drop in blood pressure, liver damage and death, and it doesn’t take that much. A 22-pound dog that eats just one gram of Xylitol needs veterinary treatment. Its effects in cats and birds have not been reported, but don’t be the one to find out.
2. Chocolate: Chocolate, especially dark and baker’s chocolate, contains theobromine. Theobromine has a small stimulant effect on humans, but a huge one on dogs, causing shaking, seizures, increased heart rate and death. Milk chocolate has approximately 44 mg of theobromine per ounce, semisweet chocolate about 150 mg per ounce, and baker’s chocolate about 390 mg per ounce. A lethal dose for dogs is considered about 50 to 100 mg per pound; cats and birds are even more sensitive, but tend to have less of a taste for chocolate.
3. Raisins and grapes: Some dogs appear to be able to eat raisins and grapes with no ill effects, but in other dogs, they can cause kidney failure and death. The reason isn’t understood, but as little as 0.3 ounces of grapes per pound and 0.05 ounces of raisins per pound have caused kidney failure. In other words, a 50-pound dog could be poisoned by eating two ounces of raisins. A few cases have been reported in cats, probably becausecats aren’t big grape and raisin eaters. Birds appear to be unaffected.
4. Macadamia Nuts: You probably won’t get too many of these in the treat bag, but you never know, and if you do, you don’t want your pet eating them. They’ve been known to cause vomiting, diarrhea, hind-leg weakness and temporary paralysis. No reports of macadamia poisoning with cats exist. Birds can eat the nuts without problem.
5. Pennies: You spend enough on your pet without feeding him money, but pennies can be the most expensive money he eats. Some people give out coins instead of candy, and some dogs will eat anything. The problem with eating pennies is that they are made of 99 percent zinc, and when the penny sits in the dog’s stomach, the zinc is dissolved and enters the bloodstream, where it causes severe anemia and kidney problems.
6. Foil wraps: Those shiny wraps around some candies can cause intestinal problems, and are particularly dangerous to birds, which may be attracted to them.
7. Scary visitors: Nobody told your pet that those costumes are all in good fun. He could be frightened and try to flee, or if he’s the protective canine type, he could bite trick-or-treaters. It’s best to keep him in a secure room away from the door during peak hours.
8. Jack O’Lanterns and candles: Flames can burn your curious pet or containers could be knocked over, starting a fire. Birds are especially endangered by Jack O’Lanterns that they can fly into, and perhaps get stuck inside.
9. Electrical cords: Those cords snaking all over the place to power all those special effects can be tempting to chew. And then zap! Keep them out of pets’ reach!
10. Artificial spider webs: What sense does it make to clean your house and then hang spider webs all over the place? If you have birds they can become entangled in them or even eat them, causing intestinal problems. Just leave the real ones up.
11. Polyurethane Glue: Often used when making homemade decorations, dogs in particular have been known to eat it. Once in the stomach, it absorbs moisture and expands into a huge rock-like mass that may need to be removed surgically.
12. Costumes: It’s fun to dress up your pet in his very own costume, but don’t let him wear it unsupervised. Chances are he’s not thrilled with your fashion statement, and he can knock things over trying to rub it off, or he could get tangled in it or eat it, in some cases choking. Be sure no rubber bands are left on him when the outfit comes off. Birds should not be part of your pirate costume, either. It’s too easy for them to get frightened and injured.
13. Sinister humans: Bad people pose the most frightening threat of all. In the weeks before Halloween, some steal animals, particularly black cats, so they can use them in rituals in which the animals are sacrificed or tortured. Take special precautions to safeguard your pet from thieves during this time. And while you should never let your pet roam, you should particularly not let him roam on Halloween.
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