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What Not to feed this Christmas!

There has been a lot of articles in the news about the lethal effects of chocolate recently and here’s why! Chocolate contains theobromine. Theobromine is a similar compound to caffeine and stimulates the heart and nervous system. In dogs it can poison them with death occurring from heart failure. Cats may not metabolise chocolate in the same way as dogs but are also thought to be at risk.

Plain and dark chocolate contains more theobromine and therefore is more dangerous than milk chocolate if your dog or cat ingests it. Theobromine stays in the dogs system for a long time, this means that chocolate poisoning can even occur if small amounts of chocolate are fed repeatedly.

Also remember that cocoa powder, baking chocolate and other foods contain theobromine. In the November 2003 Issue of Dogs Today they also pointed out that Cocoa mulch (sold in garden centres) smells delicious to dogs but is highly toxic.

Dog chocolate has had the theobromine removed. However, if it contains milk (see below) and sugar then it is probably best you avoid this as well, especially if your dog is already overweight!

Cows Milk:
‘Cats and dogs along with most other mammals lose, to a variable extent, their ability to digest lactose (milk sugar) with age, because the activity of the enzyme lactase declines with age’ Source ‘Manual of Companion Animal Nutrition and Feeding’ by BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association).

Lactose cannot be broken down without the enzyme lactase. Cats and dogs which are lactose intolerant may suffer from diarrhoea and/or flatulence when fed milk.

Raisins and Grapes:
The ASCPA (Animal Poison Control Centre in the USA) has recently published information stating the toxicity of raisins and grapes in dogs (they do not know how they affect cats yet, but advise to avoid feeding them anyway). Eating just a handful of raisins and grapes has been shown to cause kidney failure. They do not know why as yet but it might be due to a pesticide sprayed on the grapes or perhaps a type of mould found on the skin of grapes and raisins.

Christmas Treats!

Fatty Meat Scraps:
Most dogs and cats will get a bit of Christmas dinner this year, however bear in mind that if it is more than the occasional scrap, very fatty foods may lead to problems such as pancreatitis. The pancreas releases enzymes to help digest the food. Pancreatitis is a very painful inflammatory condition associated with the ingestion of fatty foods.

Fruit and Veggies:
Green vegetables are a great way of boosting your dogs immune system, you can feed these raw or cooked. You could even try a piece of raw carrot as a healthy treat. Vegetables are probably better for dogs than fruit. Some fruits are quite acidic (as well as sugary) and may not be good for dogs with skin or digestive complaints.

Remember, everything in moderation! You do not want to be clearing up diarrhoea due to too much Christmas pudding!
Dogs - This article has been reproduced courtesy of Burns Pet Nutrition

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