“During the holidays, you see this kind of thing happening a lot,” said John Jharos, a doctor at Central Vet Associates, a 24-hour emergency pet clinic located in Valley Stream.
Jharos said during the holiday season, veterinarians are expected to see an increase of cats and dogs suffering from eating strange foods.
“While we’re indulging ourselves on food, some people treat their pets as if they were part of the family,” Jharos said, cautioning that certain human foods can be harmful to animals. “And some can be dangerous or even deadly to cats or dogs.”
Jharos said a common food pets accidentally eat is chocolate. The higher content of coco in the chocolate would be more likely to cause a heart attack in an animal.
Chocolate also contains theobromine, a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant that is toxic to canines. “Their hearts are over a 100 times more sensitive than ours,” Jharos said.
As a stimulant, the effects to the nervous system and heart muscle can cause many health problems, and dogs, in turn, are not able to metabolize the product well.
Jharos also cautioned against foods containing Xylitol, a natural sweetener derived from the fibers of fruits and vegetables. He said it could cause low blood sugar in dogs, which can in turn result in a loss of coordination, depression, collapse and seizures.
Jharos said the substitute could also cause kidney failure, even in small doses.
For pets that come in contact with chocolate or Xylitol, Jharos said pet owners need to go to an emergency vet clinic as soon as possible. Various procedures, including inducing vomiting, pumping the animal’s stomach, or giving certain prescriptions to help with digestion, can help prevent further problems.
A Thanksgiving favorite, Jharos also said it was important not to feed your dog turkey.
This can sometimes cause Pancreatitus, an inflammation of the pancreas that can be deadly, said Jharos. Digestion of bones can also send pets to the hospital during the holiday season.
“When in doubt, I remind owners no table food, whatsoever,” Jharos said.