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Watch what’s gobbled

Posted: November 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Make sure your pets have a healthy and happy holiday season by following some common sense rules.  Make sure your pets have a healthy and happy holiday season by following some common sense rules. 
Make sure your pets have a healthy and happy holiday season by following some common sense rules. 

Tempted to give your pet some people treats this holiday season? Don’t. The repercussions can range from uncomfortable to downright deadly.

“Vomiting and diarrhea are the two big symptoms,” said Dr. Jaimie Ronchetto, veterinarian and owner of Cinema Veterinary Centre in Valencia. “However, with chocolate, if a pet is left untreated, effects can lead to seizure activity or nervous system issues. Dogs can get too hyper to really depressed, then they can go into a coma and die.”

Ronchetto sees an increase of approximately 25 percent of gastrointestinal issues in her practice starting around Thanksgiving and ending after Christmas.

“Usually it’s stomach upset or pancreatitis,” she said.

The largest number of those clients is canines. Cats, due to their discriminating nature, rarely indulge in people food, though it can happen.

“It’s usually more of a foreign body issue with cats. They’ll get the string from the turkey, play with it first and then ingest it. This can cause problems if the string gets stuck somewhere,” Ronchetto said.

Anything that’s rich or spicy can also cause problems, though the worst human food offenders for pets are garlic, onions and the aforementioned chocolate.

“Garlic and onions can damage red blood cells and lead to some pretty serious illnesses,” Ronchetto said. “The caffeine and other toxins in chocolate affect animals more than people, so a very small amount of baker’s chocolate can be highly toxic.”

Ronchetto suggested resisting the urge to give your pet anything from the holiday table.

“Pets are just happy to be with the family, they don’t need people food or the variety that we do. Stick with your pet’s regular diet and everyone will be a lot happier,” she said.

However, if you absolutely cannot resist your dogs’ soulful, heartfelt begging, Ronchetto said plain turkey and rice with no spices or gravy are two things you can safely feed.

“I would stay away from everything else,” she said.

If you suspect your pet has eaten something it shouldn’t have, Ronchetto first suggests calling your regular veterinarian for a consultation. During a holiday or weekend, using an emergency veterinary hospital such as All Creatures Emergency Center in Newhall or Valencia Emergency Animal Center in Valencia is the best option.

For more information on this topic, Pet Poison Helpline will host its first-ever webinar for pet owners titled “Holiday Dangers for Pets” on Dec. 3, at 10 a.m.

The webinar will provide useful and valuable information about the many toxic substances that can threaten pets during the holiday season. The hourlong session will cover “must-know” topics that pet owners can watch from their own computer.

Myths will be busted, such as the age-old belief that poinsettias are poisonous when they are actually quite benign. Also discussed will be significant poison threats to pets including unbaked bread dough (can cause alcohol poisoning and severe bloating of the stomach) and macadamia nuts (can cause a temporary paralysis). Additional common holiday foods and popular decorations that are dangerous, like tinsel and liquid potpourri, will be covered.

Presenting from Pet Poison Helpline will be Dr.Ahna Brutlag, assistant director of veterinary services, and Dr. Justine Lee, associate director of veterinary services. There will be a question-and-answer session at the end of the presentation where pet owners will be able to ask the experts additional questions, which will be answered immediately.

Registration is $10 to help cover the costs of the webinar. Pet Poison Helpline will be donating a portion of the proceeds to Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization. For more information and to register for the webinar, visit

Cinema Veterinary Centre is located at 23460 Cinema Drive, Valencia. For more info, call 661-253-9300 or visit


Emergency veterinarians

All Creatures Emergency Center
22722 Lyons Ave., Suite 5 Newhall

Valencia Emergency Animal Center
23928 Summerhill Lane, Valencia



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