View Full Version : Unlikely pet enemies

12-15-2004, 07:47 AM
Human treats, decorations can be lethal to cats and dogs

By Ralph Ranalli, Globe Staff | December 15, 2004

Macadamia nuts, raisins, bread dough, and coffee might sound like ingredients of a fine holiday nosh for humans, but they are potentially lethal to cats and dogs, an Angell Memorial Hospital veterinarian said yesterday.

The holiday season marks an annual spike in pet deaths and acute illnesses, which veterinarians said they hope to ward off with warnings about some little-known culprits of animal poisonings.

"This really shows the difference between animals and people," said veterinarian Steven Hansen, who announced the launch of a national pet poison control hot line.

Recent research and clinical observation have debunked long-held beliefs about other pet hazards and revealed some surprising new ones, said Hansen, senior vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals/Angell Poison Control Center.

One such discovery is that raisins and occasionally grapes can caused acute kidney failure and death in dogs, he said. The finding is so new, Hansen said, that veterinary toxicologists have yet to pinpoint the reason.

Macadamia nuts are another mystery, he said, since doctors still aren't sure why they cause temporary paralysis in the hind legs of dogs who ingest them. The paralysis usually disappears within three days. But the strange symptoms suggest the pet has been struck by a car and can lead to erroneous euthanasia, Hansen said.

Sugarless chewing gum is also a serious hazard to dogs, stemming from the artificial sweetener xylitol, which can cause rapid and acute blood sugar loss. It can lead to seizures and even death, Hansen said.

Automotive antifreeze, batteries, ice-melting pellets, alcoholic beverages, and pharmaceuticals are better known hazards that crop up in poisoning cases this time of year, Hansen said.

The new findings have ratcheted down the alarm for some substances that generate the most panicky calls to veterinarians, including chocolate, Christmas tree preservatives, and automotive windshield washer fluid.

Consuming large amounts of concentrated dark chocolate could cause seizures in a dog, but most of the chocolate dogs eat is not strong enough to cause more than digestive distress. And stomach upset is the likely result of a pet drinking water from the bowl of a Christmas tree stand, even if it is laced with fertilizer to prolong greenery, Hansen said. And while a small amount of methanol from windshield washer fluid can cause blindness in humans, it leads only to temporary drunkenness and depression in pets, he said.

Poinsettias and mistletoe are considered toxic to humans, but pets only get upset stomachs from them. For pets, Easter can be a more dangerous holiday because cats who ingest even small amounts of Tiger or Easter lilies can suffer kidney failure, Hansen said.

The warnings came as the veterinarians announced a new hotline -- 1-877-2ANGELL -- for people who believe that their pets have been poisoned. Pet owners can call the hot line 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and speak to a veterinarian who specializes in animal poisoning.

But unlike poison control centers for humans, there is a $50 fee for the pet hot line. The sum covers the cost of all follow-up telephone calls and consultations between the veterinarian at the poison-control center and the veterinarian providing treatment.

There are also dangerous holiday trappings for pets that humans would not mistake for food. But animals can pay a big price for their gastronomic adventures.

Hansen introduced Ozzie, a 2-year-old tabby cat, as the poster pet for unwise snacking. Yesterday Ozzie was eyeing a red-and-silver tuft of Christmas ribbon on the table next to him. Unlike last December, Ozzie did not manage to sneak off and down about 3 feet of ribbon filched from a holiday gift, his owner said.

"If he were home now, that ribbon would have been gone and eaten in about three seconds," said Christine Paul, the Angell Memorial director of marketing. "He goes crazy over this stuff."

Ozzie was lucky last year, managing to recover without the need for major surgery, Paul said.

If ingested, ribbons and tinsel can severely damage a pet's intestinal tract, causing bleeding, intestinal damage, and death.

Link (http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2004/12/15/unlikely_pet_enemies/)

12-15-2004, 07:43 PM

My ex-next-door-renter-white-trash-neighbors moved out and abandoned a 7 month old un-spayed female kitten. We have been getting her "introduced" to the house and her older brothers and man! I forgot what a sphincter factor this used to be after 5 years.

"Allie Kat" and Spike are going at it as I type. Allie charges, goes a couple steps, then rears up and hisses. It's cute. I guess it worked against the flea-ridden squirrels she used to chase in my backyard. This doesn't work against my Junior who is 13 and has kidney disease, but it really yanks the 6 yo Spike's chain that we took in as a stray 4 years ago. Man!! Are these two getting into it!! And the best thing I can say is, Allie is so small that Junior disregards her as a non-threat, but I see that Spike takes her on as a competitor for affection and stance in the family.

I just hope that they all don't compete in the "Climb the highest branch on the Christmas Tree" competition!

When Allie Kat gets to the required weight, she's gonna get "fixed".

I actually find myself in agreement with Gayle in a "Neuter the Males" campaign on this one! And let's "Spay the Females", too!!

BTW, here's a link to toxic plants for cats:


12-17-2004, 08:17 AM

We have five Abyssinians. They are highly intelligent cats and extraordinary hunters to boot.

Even the kittens seem to have an instinct and a flair for hunting that I've rarely seen in other breeds.

Here's a recent pic of one of our youngsters scoping out the bird feeder from the front window.

Enough said?