Tue, Feb 20, 2018 - Page 2 News List

Lunar New Year treats not fit for dogs, vet says

SWEET, BUT DEADLY:Many dishes, snacks and treats contain ingredients harmful to dogs, and as a general rule, dogs must never be given sugary foods or fruits

By Lin Yan-tung and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

People should not feed their dogs traditional Lunar New Year dishes, as they contain ingredients that might cause illness or event death in dogs, a Taitung-based veterinarian said.

Various nuts and legumes that are usually offered to guests during the Lunar New Year holiday, such as Brazil nuts, peanuts and walnuts, can cause serious allergic reactions in dogs, said Liu Cheng-chi (劉正吉), a veterinarian at Taitung’s Hsin Yu animal hospital.

The reactions mostly occur in a dog’s immune system or white blood cells and do not have visible symptoms, Liu said, adding that peanuts in particular are dangerous to dogs, as they might contain aflatoxin.

While aflatoxin affects humans as well, its effects are much worse in dogs and cats due to their smaller size, he said, adding that it might cause organ failure or even death.

Dogs cannot properly digest Lunar New Year’s treats made with glutinous rice flour, such as nian gao (年糕), fa gao (發糕) and tang yuan (湯圓), which cause bloating and stress in their internal organs.

Feeding dogs those treats might also cause pancreatic inflammation or breathing problems, Liu added.

Sausages fried with garlic shoots is a popular holiday dish, but the spices and preservatives used in the sausages can cause inflammation in a dog’s digestive tract, which is not well-suited to processing those kinds of ingredients, he said.

Seafood dishes often contain large amounts of salt and protein, which can cause problems in dogs, including uremia — an excess of amino acid and protein metabolism end-products in the blood — which might lead to skin problems and a loss of fur, Liu said.

Contrary to popular belief, vegetables such as cauliflower and carrots are also not good for dogs, as they contain photoactive substances, which might cause allergic reactions in the dog’s skin when they are exposed to sunlight, he said.

The fibers in these vegetables are also too coarse for dogs to digest and might cause problems in their digestive tracts, he added.

Fruits are also off-limits for dogs, as the large amounts of natural sugars in fruits might cause diabetes in dogs, Liu said.

In general, foods that contain sugars, either natural or processed, should not be given to pets, Liu said, adding that dishes with strong flavors like garlic and ginger might cause blood problems in dogs, including anemia and sepsis.

Tea, often drunk by people after large meals to aid digestion, should never be given to a dog, Liu said, adding that the caffeine in tea can cause diarrhea, vomiting or other problems in dogs.

Pet owners must be careful not to leave food waste in open garbage cans or where it otherwise might be accessible to dogs, he said.

Discarded food, such as corn cobs, can cause serious injury in dogs that try to eat them whole, he added.

Generally, pet owners should remember that, just as for humans, the best foods for dogs are those that contain low levels of preservatives, salt and sugar, Liu said.

Dogs should also get plenty of exercise and spend time outdoors, he added.

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