As Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and the isles of CVS are lined with chocolate hearts and holiday kisses, it is important to remember the first love of your life. Your best friend, and for many…furry faux child. Fido, your faithful companion and confidant. For some, your hound pre-dated your hubby…and for others, was the biggest part of your growing family (before your first born). So it is only fair that you keep your privileged pets in mind as you celebrate Valentine’s Day this season.
Now, every pet owner who also has a toddler realizes that the dog’s best friend is not man, but baby. This is not due to your little one’s dimples and rolls, wrinkles or cuteness…it is due predominantly to the fact that your bouncing baby is sneaking your pet treats when you are not looking. That is the true secret to their fast and furious friendship.
While some pets may seem timid and reluctant to welcome a newborn in to their home–a home THEY once dominated, you may notice a shift in your “children’s” relationship once your baby starts eating solids (4-6 mths) and especially once they are old enough (read: precocious enough) to slip snacks, finger foods and left overs to your pet (9-12+ mths). Soon you will notice an unspoken agreement and connection forged between your once loyal furry friend and your adoring, wide eyed baby. Fido will sit dutifully below your baby’s high chair, offering assistance with most meals, and will be ready to help “clean up” what may have fallen to the floor (or on your baby’s face and fingers). Your mischievous munchkin may mean well, but providing food and other foreign substances to your furry friend is often not in his best interest.
While it is endearing to see the two most important “people” in your life form such a srong friendship, it is essential to be mindful of Fido’s sensitive tummy and do your part to keep his nutritional “supplements” to a minimum. It is best that your pet remains on a strict diet based solely on dog food, and not other treats that your toddler provides, or worse, other items in your home that your two mischievous children may explore.
Dr. Brian S. Witkov, D.V.M; M.P.H of Animal House Calls Veterinary Clinic, has a few helpful hints on how to keep your hound healthy…
Toxicology is as important in veterinary medicine as it is in pediatrics. Neither small humans nor pets are as picky as we would like them to be when confronted with curious substances. Beside the pesticide hazards, cleansers, and detergents, there is also a concern for reactions to common and often easily available substances like birth control pills, silica gel packs or even batteries. The cardinal rule is keep any substance or object which is potentially able to be ingested far out of reach of your pet.
Probably around this time of year, chocolate is a common and often ignored threat. The active (toxic) agents in chocolate are methylxanthines. Theobromine and caffeine are examples of this family of compounds. Relative amounts vary with the form of chocolate. In brief, it is possible to have 2 ounces of milk chocolate be lethal to very small dogs. Signs within 6 to 12 hours are hyperactivity, tremors and G.I. symptoms.
So, be cautious, but also be aware that not all dogs show equal susceptibility. If concerned or suspicious about potential toxicity, contact your veterinarian or poison control. In most urban locales, emergency veterinary facilities are available with 24-hour coverage. You may also visit the MSPCA to learn more about toxicity and your pet.
Animal House Calls is a mobile veterinary clinic that was founded in 1982 and has served the North Shore for over 30 years. Now serving Boston’s North End, Waterfront, Beacon Hill and Downtown neighborhoods, Animal House Calls provides veterinary care in the comfort and convenience of your pet’s home.
To learn more, please visit www.animalhousecalls.net or call 978.535.4263.