Thursday, December 30, 2010

Foods to Avoid Giving Your Pet

(by Ana Grimh, CPDT-KA; adapted from ASPCA article)

Throughout the holiday season, questions may have arose about what is healthy and unhealthy to feed your pet(s). We are a bit late for the 2010 season, but here is a brief list of what to avoid feeding your pet(s)!

Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine

These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.


Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.


The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many cookies and candies. However, they can cause problems for your canine companion. These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Grapes & Raisins

Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure.

Yeast Dough

Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. Because the risk diminishes after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats. However, these treats should not constitute more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.

Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones

Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.


Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

Onions, Garlic, Chives

These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods.


Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.


Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Evaluating the Things We Don't "Love" About Our Dogs

(by Brianne Statz, CPDT-KA)

Five Things I Love About My Dogs:

1. Their infectious enthusiasm in greeting me when I come home, even if I’ve only been gone a
few minutes.

2. Watching them run, mouths wide open like they’re smiling, the picture of joyful.

3. Cuddle time – mentality, not size, makes a lap dog.

4. If I drop food on the floor, all I have to do to clean it up is whistle.

5. They’re just really freaking cute.

Five Things I Don’t Love About My Dogs:

1. Payton barks at other dogs and people going by the window.

2. They jump up when they’re excited (sometimes with very dirty paws).

3. Finley insists on stopping for a thorough interview of every single trash can if we walk on
garbage day.

4. Payton likes to race up the stairs, and doesn’t care who he has to cut off to get up or down as fast as possible.

5. They leave fluffy little fur clouds in every crevice of the house.

One thing that’s great about making a list of things I don’t like is that I can evaluate each one, and usually find a solution to help. Here are some examples:

1. Reward the behavior you want – For barking out the window, I spend some time watching out the window with Payton, and rewarding him for being quiet when someone goes by. He now will often just whine and look at me, rather than have a frenzied barking meltdown.

2. Reward an incompatible behavior – For jumping up, I taught the dogs “go to your bed”, and I can send them there to do sit or down stays until I am ready to greet them. I will also reward jumping nose touches out to the side, so they can jump, but not on me.

3. Foundation Skills – Leave it is a skill every dog should know well, and it’s perfect for this situation.

4. Self-control exercises – Asking Payton for a wait at the stairs gets me up and down without breaking a leg, and also strengthens his self-control.

5. Well, not everything can be fixed with training. That’s when I look at my list of things I love and decide they are worth it! :)