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Delicious Dangers

‘Tis the season that many of us are enjoying extra indulgences. While these little extras may not be enough to throw off our New Year’s resolutions, even a small amount could cause poisoning in our cats and dogs. Here are seven of those toxic treats to watch out for:

1. Sugar-Free Items Containing Xylitol

Even the most knowledgeable pet owners may not have heard about this very dangerous hazard. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener in products like sugar-free gum, candy, mints, and even peanut butter, causes a sudden release of insulin in a dog’s body that leads to seriously low blood sugar. It can also cause liver damage. Xylitol acts fast; you could see vomiting, lethargy, and other signs of poisoning in less than 15 minutes. If left untreated, the condition can be fatal. Ensure your pets don’t have access to sugar-free baked goods or open purses containing sugar-free gum and mints.

2. Chocolate and Cocoa

It’s one of our favorite holiday indulgences, but chocolate can cause seizures and death in dogs and cats (although felines seem to be less attracted to chocolate). Darker chocolate, such as unsweetened baker’s chocolate, is more toxic than milk or white chocolate. The chemical toxicity is due to a methylxanthine (like theobromine and caffeine), and results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), an abnormal heart rhythm and seizures. In smaller dogs, even the wrappers from candy can result in a secondary obstruction in the stomach or intestines. Keep chocolate, especially dark chocolates and chocolate-covered espresso beans, safely put away from curious snouts.

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