/ Monthly Care Tips

Coping with Chocolate Toxicity During Christmas

Published December 19, 2012 in Dr Peto Says, Monthly Care Tips, What's New |
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With Christmas around the corner, you’d find that there’s more chocolates gifted than you’d be able t consume. So we are not surprised that there’d be a lot lying around in your residence.

With chocolates readily available, that presents an ample opportunity for furbies to easy access the tasty treat with minimal effort. Most, if not all fur parents know the dangers when your furbie consumes chocolate. Theobromine, a member of the methylxanthine chemical class (which also includes caffeine), is found in varying concentrations in chocolate.

Unlike humans, dogs slowly metabolize theobromine and are more susceptible to toxicity from chocolate consumption. The common body systems that are affected and their associated clinical signs include (but are not limited to):

Cardiovascular – increased heart rate and arrhythmia

Gastrointestinal – vomiting, diarrhea, and increased water consumption

Neurologic – restlessness, muscle tremors, and seizure activity

Urogenital – increased urination or urinary incontinence

The highest theobromine concentrations are found in baking and dark chocolate, while semi-sweet and milk chocolate contain lesser but still concerning levels. Chocolate flavoured commercial products and baked goods have the lowest theobromine concentrations. Fat, sugar, and other ingredients (alcohol, preservatives, sugar alcohols, etc.) can also exacerbate the signs of chocolate toxicity.

Here’s a possible treatment course under the expert hands of your trusted veterinarian :

Emesis induction

An intravenous injection of Apomorphine induces vomiting. If your furbie had taken some food prior to ingesting chocolate, having a full stomach helps to promote clearance of undesirable gastric contents.

Emesis Reversal

After vomiting, an injection of Naloxone is given. It partially antagonizes the effects of Apomorphine to reduce the further urge to vomit.

Antiemetic and Antacid Drug

When the vomiting stops, injections of Cerenia (maropitant citrate) and Pepcid (Famotidine) is administered to further diminish vomiting and reduce his stomach acid level. (respectively)

Activated Charcoal

This black, thick liquid binds to toxins in the digestive tract to prevent their absorption and facilitate clearance in the bowel movements. It should be highlighted that charcoal not containing Sorbitol (a sugar alcohol which facilitates digestive clearance) should be used as there is a potential risk of inducing electrolyte abnormalities.

Fluid Therapy

To promote faster excretion of chocolate’s stimulants through the kidneys and to make up for body water lost through vomiting or potential episodes of diarrhea, a dose of subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids should be administered.

When appetite has been normalised, the defecate produced should be softer/darker (nearly black) from the activated charcoal for the next 24 hours.

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What to Say (& Not Say) to Someone Who Lost an Animal Companion

Published October 5, 2012 in Dr Peto Says, Monthly Care Tips, What's New |
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Pet loss is a delicate topic, and even if you have been through it yourself, it is difficult to know what to say when someone you know experiences the death of an animal companion. Here’s some helpful content which offers some great insight on what to do.

Say This

“Your pet was so lucky to have you.”

During times of grief many people look inward and ask themselves if there was anything else they could have done differently. Reminding someone of what a wonderful fur parent they were, and that their pet enjoyed the best life possible, can help to alleviate any guilt a fur [parent] may be feeling.

Don’t Say This

“When are you getting another pet?”

This implies that a pet is like a piece of furniture – if it breaks or gets old you just throw it out and get a new one. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our pets provide the kind of emotional connection that, for some, can resonate deeper than what they feel with human beings. Pets demand that we be selfless and in return we are rewarded with unconditional love. That is not something that can be erased immediately.

Say This

“Do you remember when…?”

Sharing a personal, heartwarming or funny story about a pet with a grieving [caregiver] can help move the focus away from the loss to a remembrance of happier times.  And it is those happy times that will help many fur [parents] get through the tough times ahead.

Don’t Say This

“What’s the big deal? You have other pets.”

As any fur [parent] will tell you, each pet is different and brings something unique to our lives. Would you tell a parent that has lost a child, “Don’t worry about it. You have other kids?” Of course not. Be sensitive to the loss irrespective of how many pets a person might have.

Say This

“Is there anything I can do?”

It might sound cliché but if it is truthful, and you are willing to help, just knowing there is someone there if needed can provide a great deal of comfort to a grieving fur parent.

But if you say it you need to mean it. If someone reaches out to you with a request after you have offered, and you are not able or willing to help, you can damage a relationship forever.

Don’t Say This

“Are you really going to have [him/her] cremated?”

Just like it is with the passing of people, everyone has their own particular desires for how to handle the services. In the case of pets, cremation allows us to “keep” our pet with us forever. By implying to someone that their choice of cremation is foolish speaks to a personality void of understanding the desire for some type of physical presence.

Say This

“You did everything you could do.”

Many fur [parents] feel enormous guilt upon the passing of the pet. Perhaps they feel if they’d taken their pet to the vet earlier the outcome may have been different.

Guilt is also often felt when it comes to end of life decisions, one of the hardest things a fur [parent] may have to go through. Letting the fur [parent] know they responded appropriately and with love can go a long way in helping to soothe a grieving [caregiver].

Don’t Say This

“It’s just a dog (cat, rabbit, hamster, etc.)”

This will invariably come from the person who has never [had] a pet. They cannot begin to understand the connection we feel with our pets and probably do not view this statement as crass or insensitive.

But you have to wonder if they would say the same kind of thing if they were talking about a family member or friend passing.

Do This

Sending a condolence card will be seen by most any grieving fur [parent] as a very thoughtful act. This is not the time for an email which is impersonal.

Include a brief, handwritten note and include a photo of the pet in happier times if you have one. Another kind gesture is to make donation to a pet charity in the name of the [fur parent]. If the dog or cat died from cancer a donation to an animal shelter or [another] worthy organization can mean the world to a grieving fur parent.

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