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Don't buy your dog this for the holidays

It is that time of year. You walk into any pet store and you are smacked in the face with toys and treats all decked out in holiday themes.

Even in stores that have small pet sections you see a larger than normal assortment of holiday items designed for quick gifts for the dog lover.

As a shopper and responsible pet lover one must do their homework to ensure their gifts are not toxic and potentially deadly to an innocent dog. We will focus on two items that are very harmful to pets.

Don't buy traditional rawhides, buy alternative ones!

We all know the sight, we walk into a big pet store and there are a ton of rawhides front and center. They are prominently positioned to quickly grab and are packaged in cute little stockings and other holiday shapes.

Ok let's back up not all rawhide's are bad. However, most sold in the holiday packaging are because of where and how they are manufactured.

Rawhides have several risk factors and include: toxicity from how it is made, choking hazards and intestinal blockage.

How they are made. Most rawhides are made in China and who have different manufacturing standards than the United States. Rawhides are made from leftovers in the tanning industry. They are soaked and treated in a variety of chemicals such as bleach. This process cleans the rawhide and slows down the decay process.

Choking hazards. Rawhides are designed to be chewed slowly and break into little pieces. The dog's chewing behavior must be considered when purchasing any chew items. If the dog is an aggressive chewer and bites big pieces off, consider giving to treats that support this behavior.

Intestinal blockage. Rawhides are very slow to digest. If a dog manages to swallow a large piece it may become lodged in the intestinal tract. The dog will need surgery to remove the blockage. If the blockage is not removed in time the dog could die.

Alternatives. There are many alternative rawhides for sale. You may have to do a little bit of research and pay a little extra. However, I feel it is worth it. There are several companies that sell rawhides that are plant based and easier to digest.

Look out for Xylitol (Birch Sugar) in food items

This time of year is filled with lots of food, snacks, candies and other items dogs may get into inadvertently.

How many times have we heard of a dog getting a hold of a plate of cookies or stealing something off the table as it is set for a big meal. It is important to remain vigilant so they don't get into trouble.

What is it and what does it do? This is a sugar substitute that is found in items labeled as "sugar free, no sugar added, diabetic-friendly and cavity-free."

It can be found in other items such as toothpaste, baby wipes, vitamins and medicines such as children's allergy medicine. It can also be in the materials used to make the coating of gel caps on medicines. Beware of this if you need to give your dog human allergy medicine or melatonin, etc.

Of course we have all heard about Xylitol being in peanut butter. Check out this extensive list of products containing Xylitol.

Xylitol confuses the dog's liver to think it is real sugar. The liver expels the stored insulin to make room for the Xylitol. The released insulin then removes sugar from your dog's blood stream. This causes your dog to become hypoglycemic as quickly as 30 minutes after ingestion.

This will all lead to liver failure and potential death.

Treatment. Seek medical attention immediately if your dog has ingested this or you think they have. It may take as little as 30 minutes to start showing symptoms. In some cases, the effects may take a little longer but don't delay.

The quicker you seek medical attention the better the prognosis of recovery.

What to do

It is important any time of year, but particularly this time of year when you receive gifts for your dog or host holiday parties, that you are observant of what your dog is ingesting.

Try to keep small candies away from your pet, keep an eye on what they are doing and monitor the contents of the edible gifts they receive.

When in doubt, always seek medical attention.

Did you know there is a poison control center for pets? Their number is 888-764-7661.

Happy Holidays!


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