CARE: How to take care of your pet this summer.
CARE: How to take care of your pet this summer. contributed

Why fruit mince pies are secret pet killers

IT'S a busy time of year for our emergency services and it's also chaotic for those tasked with taking care of our canines and cats caught in a festive season health scare.

With many vet surgeries closed on public holidays it means more four-pawed patients are directed to emergency animal hospitals, many presenting with the usual silly-season issues.

Danielle Huston is a senior vet at Animal Emergency Service, which has practices at Tanawha and Noosaville.

She said they'd seen a "constant" stream of pets over the last few days and expected that would continue through the festive season with a number of public holidays.


Julieanne and Lee take a swim in Maleny swimming hole with Mimi the puppy dog.
KEEP COOL: It's important your pets also beat the heat this summer. Warren Lynam

Dr Huston said chocolate ingestions had been one of the most common incidents they'd treated and added it was important pet owners heeded the warnings.

High doses of chocolate, particularly cooking chocolate, dark chocolate or cocoa can cause seizures and even be lethal to some pets.

Fatty offcuts, particularly ham or ham bones, could also cause havoc with your pet's digestive system, with high fat intakes causing pancreatitis in dogs.

"The less fat you give them the better," she said.

Dr Huston said it was a matter of keeping a close eye on pets and trying to stick to a regular feeding routine as much as possible through the silly season to avoid an emergency dash with your dog or cat.

Raiding the bin for scraps or grabbing treats off the table was one to watch for owners.

Dr Huston said fruit mince pies could also cause serious problems for pets, with raisins, grapes and sultanas highly toxic to dogs and cats.

She said even wrapped-up chocolates weren't safe from crafty cats or dogs with their keen senses of smell and avoiding giving foods with spices and seasonings to dogs and cats was another way to avoid some of the problems that can occur like vomiting, gastroenteritis and internal bleeding.


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AT RISK: Cats are also susceptible to things like heartworm and toxicity in sultanas and raisins. CONTRIBUTED

Heartworm was another ailment that pet owners needed to be wary of.

Caloundra vets recently reported a seven-year-old dog being diagnosed with heartworm, a parasite transmitted to dogs via mosquito bite.

Dr Huston said it was something owners needed to be vigilant about as many believed it to have been eradicated and had become "a bit lax" about heartworm protection.

"It's very important to keep up to date (with preventative measures)," she said.

"It was mostly (eradicated) but I think we (the public) got slack."

She said they had a cat with heartworm in an extremely rare case a few years ago.

"It's a bad disease," Dr Huston said, explaining how heartworm can end up blocking the heart's pumping capacity and blocking other major organs.

Coughing and generally being unwell were signs of possible heartworm issues in pets but Dr Huston said it was a difficult disease to pick up early without proper testing and something pet owners needed to keep a closer eye on.

As for dog lovers out there, Dr Huston said owners needed to be vigilant about fish hooks on beaches and in tackle boxes that dogs can pick up while on walks.

Dog owners active on dog beaches and other areas in the summer months should also be wary of the potential for dogs to fight each other.

Meanwhile with New Year's Eve around the corner Greencross Vets issued a timely reminder about keeping your pets calm as we welcome in 2017.

Calm, relaxed tones are key to speaking with your pets, while dark rooms with music can help drown out the fireworks.

Pheromone sprays can work while it's important to make sure your pet is microchipped just in case they do take off during the fireworks.

Access to cool, fresh water is also important during the hot Australian summer while restricting their exercise to cooler parts of the day, either early morning or late afternoon, will help avoid heat stress.