Mon, Feb 02, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Pet owners sicken dogs, cats with holiday food

KILLING WITH KINDNESS A number of pet owners are showing their love by sharing table scraps, but vets say this is leading to an increase in gastroenteritis in pets

By Huang Wen-huang AND Mang Ching-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The number of pets with gastroenteritis over the Lunar New Year holiday was three times higher than normal because pet owners over-fed their pets, veterinarians said.

Pet owners often let their pets eat alongside large family meals during the holiday. However, veterinarians said over-feeding pets can cause them to develop gastroenteritis, which, if untreated within 24 hours, may result in an accumulation of bacteria in the intestines that could lead to death.

Because most veterinary hospitals are closed during the holiday, veterinarians advised pet owners to keep their pets healthy by feeding them moderately, keeping them warm and keeping them away from firecrackers.

On average, five to six pets are taken to hospital each day because of gastroenteritis, said Huang Yu-chang (黃裕昌), superintendent at a veterinary hospital.

Some pets are even rushed to the emergency room in the middle of the night, he said.

Gastroenteritis is characterized by lack of appetite followed by vomiting or diarrhea, he said. If the animal isn’t taken to hospital immediately, the symptoms will worsen.

The number of pets rushed to 24-hour veterinary hospitals over the holiday was about three times higher than regular. The main reason was that their owners fed them foods unfit for pet consumption, veterinarian Chen Pei-chung (陳培中) said.

Chen said some pet owners treat their pets like leftover food disposal units, feeding them leftovers from hot pots — some dogs are even fed corn cobs.

A number of pet owners feed their pets chocolate, which can be deadly because the caffeine in chocolate is toxic to dogs, Chen said. Onions induce hemolytic anemia in dogs, and foods that are too salty can cause problems for a dog’s kidneys, he said.

Some pet owners also let their pets drink alcohol, but it is not healthy for dogs to get drunk to the point where they wobble around from dizziness, he said.

Aside from diet, Chen advised pet owners to keep their pets away from firecrackers because the sound can scare them.

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