Q: My kids’ Halloween candy sits around the house for weeks. Sometimes the kids share it with the dog; other times the dog steals candy that’s not hidden.
I know chocolate is toxic to dogs. Is there anything else I should remove from the Halloween haul?
A: You are right that chocolate, which contains theobromine and caffeine, is toxic to dogs.
They metabolize these chemicals slowly, so the effects — vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, tremors, seizures and a rapid, irregular heartbeat — may persist for hours to days.
Another potentially toxic candy is licorice. In dogs, it alters potassium and sodium levels, inducing irregular heart rhythms and increased blood pressure.
You also must remove sugar-free candy and chewing gum from your children’s stash.
Most contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can cause dangerously low blood sugar, loss of coordination, seizures and liver failure in dogs. Even a single stick of gum contains enough xylitol to kill a 10-pound dog.
Some seemingly healthy treats cause problems in dogs. Raisins and grapes can induce kidney failure, and macadamia nuts can cause weakness, loss of coordination, tremors, fever and vomiting in dogs.
Lollipops are risky because the sticks can get stuck in the intestines, requiring surgery. For the same reason, prevent your dog from eating corncobs and other nondigestible items.
If sifting through your children’s Halloween haul sounds like hard work, boost your energy by sampling what you remove.
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Q: How do you give a pill to a cat? My cat, Xena, instantly transforms into a scratching, biting warrior when I try to give her the medication her veterinarian prescribed.
A: A spoonful of sugar helped Mary Poppins, but most cats can’t detect sweet tastes. So, I’ll share a few other ideas because what works for one cat won’t necessarily work for another.
Start by feeding Xena a bit of tasty food, like her favorite canned food, to lubricate her throat so the pill will slide down easily. If you’re right-handed, use your left hand to gently grasp her upper jaw, tipping her nose up and opening her mouth.
With your right hand, drop the pill on the back of her tongue, close her mouth and touch her nose or stroke the underside of her neck to encourage her to swallow. Follow up by letting her return to her tasty food, which will reward her and wash the pill down.
If that’s difficult, place the pill in a pet piller, also called a pill popper, a long plastic tube with a plunger.
Insert the pet piller into the side of Xena’s mouth, just behind her canine teeth and directed toward the back of her tongue. Push the plunger to pop the pill down her throat, and immediately reward her with yummy food.
Another trick is to hide the pill in a tasty soft treat such as a Pill Pocket, available in a variety of flavors and sizes from your veterinarian or a pet supply store.
If these ideas don’t work, ask your veterinarian if Xena’s medication is available as a flavored oral liquid, a transdermal gel that’s rubbed on the cat’s ear and absorbed through the skin or a long-acting injection.
Your veterinarian may enlist the help of a pharmacist who specializes in compounding veterinary medications.
The key is to work with your veterinarian to ensure that Xena gets the medication she needs.