Tea eggs contain caffeine and theophylline, which are dangerous for pets, as they can lead to severe muscle contractions, epilepsy, faintness or even death, a veterinarian said.
Caffeine and theophylline are methylxanthines and overconsumption can lead to increased cellular calcium concentration, which can cause intense muscle spasms, Taipei-based Primo Animal Hospital dean Chang Yang-chung (張洋崇) said on May 19, in response to a post on Facebook about a dog that was hospitalized after its owner fed it tea eggs.
Pets begin exhibiting signs of methylxanthine poisoning one to four hours after consuming the substance, with symptoms including spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, palpitations, urine leakage, high body temperature, seizures and faintness, Chang said, adding that poisoning can be fatal.
Tea bags and implements should be stored out of reach of pets to prevent them from accidentally consuming large amounts of tea leaves, he said.
Pets should be immediately taken to a veterinary clinic should they eat tea leaves, he added.
Separately on May 14, Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals researcher Chen Ting-yu (陳庭毓) drew attention to stereotypic behaviors of pets that receive too little attention from their owners.
Such behaviors — including pacing, spinning in circles, unresponsiveness when called and constant biting or licking of the body despite having no ailment — can be repetitive and seemingly aimless, and are more commonly observed in animals kept in zoos or laboratories than in wild animals, Chen said.
Stereotypies are not treatable and can result in physical harm to pets, such as injuries to limbs due to continuous pacing, skin damage or bacterial infections resulting from biting and licking, she said.
Stereotypies indicate that pets are stressed, lack environmental stimuli and not receiving sufficient care, making them lose their sense of existential purpose, which they compensate for by “seeking fun for themselves,” such as feeling pain by biting themselves, as a way to feel alive, she added.
While stereotypies are irreversible, there are ways to alleviate them, Chen said, adding that people must take the initiative and take incremental steps to interact more with their pets.
Taking pets out for a walk, playing games and talking to them are all goods ways to show them that they are valued and alleviate their stereotypies, she said.
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