2011-07-08 / Columnists

Paws For A Moment

Food And Frenzied Fear Of Fireworks
Commentary by Karina B. Salvo, MS, DVM

Summer is here and the barbeques are smoking! There will be many exciting outdoor activities: barbeques, beach parties, block parties, birthdays, parades and celebrations! Many of us have family pets that enjoy the excitement and company! As the hotdogs, steaks and hamburgers are cooking away, our canines’ noses and eyes are on standby mode for anything that may ‘drop’ on the floor!

This weekend marks one of the biggest summertime celebrations.

Fourth of July!

Temptation for a sneak into the trash can may be a great find for the quietest of canines! The kids are usually the dog’s best friend for a reason. Who has the most leftovers and loves to share with the dog?

Eating table food for many dogs can be disastrous. Their gastrointestinal systems are ‘simpler’ than ours and not accustomed to the various foods, spices and ingredients that we are used to having. Eating these foods that they are not used to can lead to gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting, diarrhea and, potentially, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration and anorexia. The pancreas is responsible for producing hormones that facilitate digestion as well as producing insulin to maintain proper glucose levels. When the pancreas is inflamed, many of its normal activities are disrupted.

Having worked in an Animal ER for many years, I have seen quite a few of these cases come through the doors. Common presenting complaints by the owners are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, and a very recent history of being a guest at the local gathering and possibly getting into the trash. Many of these patients can be treated outpatient — some aren’t so lucky.

Dehydration, anorexia, vomiting and discomfort are many times treated in hospital. Uncontrolled vomiting may lead the veterinarian to take radiographs (X rays).

Major concerns include aluminum foil, onions, utensils, paper and CORN COBS! Dogs love to chew on corn cobs! One swallow ... gone! The entire corn cob! More times than I would like to count, these dogs end up in surgery to have them removed.

What about the fireworks? Loud bangs, pops, whistles and booms!

Dogs can hear something four times further away than we can. Remember the dog that howls at the siren coming from behind that eventually passes? Fireworks may be beautiful and are the highlight of the Fourth of July events, but the noise they produce is sudden and many times shocking to our dogs. Fearful dogs can bolt into the streets, off roofs and down the block, around the corner and gone. The safest place for them is to remain at home.

Fourth of July firework celebrations should be left to the humans! Leaving your dog at home with the television tuned to the Animal Planet will not only provide some entertainment but also help to drown out the noise of the fireworks, cracks and pops outside!

As the weekend and summer months begin with the barbeques, celebrations and gatherings, please remember to alert your guests not to feed the dog. I prefer to err on the side of caution and avoid any chance of table food ingestion, trash can snooping and/or promotion of any disastrous fearful event.

Make sure the dog is ‘out of harm’s way’! Enjoy your summer with your friends, family and pets, but avoid the late night trip to the Animal ER by keeping man and woman’s best friend safe! Don’t forget the water, even on walks! It’s hot out there!

I welcome questions, comments and suggestions for this column and future column ideas of interest.

Please email me at BelleHarbor Vet@gmail.com or visit me at www.Belle HarborHouseCalls.com and on Facebook!

Have a Happy and Safe Summer!

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