Keep pets away from Christmas treats

FOOTHILLS Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr Nathan Mannix has issued a warning to readers to keep their pets kept away from their owners’ festive treats.

Dr Mannix said he had treated various forms of alcohol toxicity in the past, particularly at this time of year.

“The type of alcohol can be an issue – there are toxic alcohols in some cleaning products and ethylene glycol in automobile coolant affects some of the same pathways,” he said.

“As far as regular drinking alcohol, most of the affected patients I have seen have had access to very sweet drinks – they enjoy the taste as much as we do – but one or two have had just wine.”

Alcohol (ethanol) affects pets much the same way it does humans.

It causes depression of the central nervous system and the dog or cat becomes drowsy.

Exposure to high levels of alcohol can result in behavioural changes, lose of coordination, decreased body temperatures and slow reflexes.

If alcohol or ethanol poisoning becomes advanced, the animal’s breathing and heart rate is slowed and their total body acid (metabolic acidosis) increases, which can cause cardiac arrest.

Dr Mannix said a number of other seasonal hazards suppled at parties such as chocolate, sugar-free candies containing xylitol, onions, cooked bones (especially chicken), grapes and raisins were also toxic to animals.

He also warned about other hazards such as snakes – especially during early summer when they are slower and have more venom built up – and heat stroke.

“In WA, heat stroke is the biggest danger of the season,” he said.

“This happens very rapidly in cars with the windows rolled up.”

Dr Mannix said dogs cooled down by panting and having the moisture evaporate off their tongues.

In a locked car, their panting makes the humidity go up, so they pant more as the evaporative cooling becomes less effective.

When they pant more, it makes them warmer and increases the humidity.

Their panting starts to become less and less effective.

“Heat stroke is also common when our pets are exercised on very hot days, or are kept in conditions where there is no access to water,” he said.

“Some dogs are more affected by the heat such as overweight dogs, but also breeds with short noses and narrow tracheas, such as bulldogs and pugs.

“Since treatment is costly and can have lingering effects, the best approach is prevention.”

Plenty of shade and water are critical for dogs and always watching for signs of overexertion – brick red gums, sticky saliva, noisy breathing .

Never leave a dog in a car.