The SPCA and Nestlé Purina are reminding pet owners to be extra vigilant about what their pets eat over the Festive season.
It may be unknown that common treats and snacks we humans enjoy as part of our holiday celebration including avocado, macadamia nuts, ham, grapes and raisins can cause internal damage and in serious cases lead to death.
Dr Shalsee Vigeant, SPCA Veterinary Manager is urging pet owners to not share human food and to think twice about leaving food in places that might be easily accessible to pets.
“It’s important to know that ignoring your pet’s pleading faces and smooches is actually in their best interest. Dogs and cats digest and metabolise food differently to humans so what might be perfectly fine for us can be poisonous to them.”
“We have a very simple rule in our house. Only food specially formulated with the right blend of nutrients is given to our pets and we remind visitors of this when they arrive,” says Dr Vigeant.
Even pet owners who are careful about what they feed their pet need to be aware about the places their pet might find a feast. Handbags, gifts under the tree, food left on tables and in rubbish bags are common places where pets will often steal foods that can make them sick.
Jessie Gilchrist, who works at SPCA Auckland will be keeping her dog Cody well away from any human food this year. Last Christmas Cody was hospitalised for 48 hours and on an IV after stealing and indulging in her family's fruit cake.
“Most people know that chocolate is dangerous for dogs, but there are actually an array of popular festive ingredients that your pet’s bodies are simply not designed to eat. Pets can get into food they're not supposed to eat very quickly, so we have to be extra vigilant at this time of year," says Jessie.
Although Christmas is the season of giving, there are plenty of other ways to spoil your pets.
“At the SPCA we take Purina One pet food and freeze it or put it into toys so they can gradually extract the food. A walk or games in the garden after a big meal is also a great way to make sure your pet gets the attention they need and to fight your own after-meal lethargy,” says Dr Vigeant.
Please remember: if you think your pet has eaten something dangerous you should immediately call your local vet clinic.
Ten Foods Unsafe for Pets
- Fruit cake or Christmas pudding as the raisins (and grapes) are deadly to cats and dogs. They are toxic to their kidneys and can cause lethargy, excessive thirst, vomiting and in serious cases can be fatal.
- Alcohol and coffee are both toxic for dogs.
- Avocados contain persin causing vomiting, diarrhoea and heart congestion in dogs.
- For cats and dogs, chocolate can cause elevated heart rate, seizures, vomiting and diarrhoea.
- Macadamia nuts contain a toxin that can inhibit movement and cause panting, weakness and swollen limbs.
- Onions and chives contain disulphides and sulfoxides, which can cause anaemia and damage red blood cells.
- Peaches, plums and persimmons and apple pips contain a substance that degrades to cyanide.
- Xylitol - a common ingredient in sugarless treats and sugarless gum is dangerous.
- Sweet-corn cobs can cause blockages in the small intestine that may need to be removed surgically. Don't let your dog chew on the cob.
- Turkey skin, pork crackling, sausages and fatty meats not only add extra calories but can lead to intense pain due to pancreatitis.
A Gisborne man appeared in the Gisborne District Court yesterday accused of bashing his dog in the head three times with a club hammer and then leaving her to die in agony.
James Tuari, 48, pleaded guilty to a charge of wilful ill-treatment of an animal with the result that the pain or distress caused to the animal was so great that it was necessary to destroy the animal in order to end its suffering. He was sentenced to 9 months in prison, disqualified from owning dogs for 10 years, and ordered to pay reparations of $125.30.
The story began on 11 January 2016 when two Animal Control Officers and an SPCA Inspector attended the defendant’s property in Gisborne, following a complaint to the Gisborne District Council about an injured dog.
They found Brownie, a young adult dog, tied up in a small area by the side of the garage. The ground was strewn with rubbish and rags, and there was a blue plastic container containing a small amount of stagnant green water. There was blood on the walls close to where Brownie was tied up.
Brownie was in very thin body condition and had two obvious wounds on the top of her head. Both wounds were full of maggots, indicating that they were not fresh.
The SPCA Inspector took possession of the dog and transported her for an urgent veterinary examination, which revealed that Brownie had two, large holes measuring approximately 50mm by 50mm in her head. One of the holes opened into the cranial vault (the very thin piece of bone covering the back portion of the brain). Both holes contained fly eggs and maggots, which were approximately 0.5cm to 1.0cm long, indicating the wounds were two or three days old.
Brownie was also severely emaciated and extremely dehydrated, and faecal testing revealed she had an extremely high parasite burden.
The veterinarian recommended euthanasia because her prognosis was ‘hopeless’, and because her pain and distress was so great it was necessary to end her suffering. She went on to say that this was one of the most severe and disturbing cases she had seen because the dog had been subjected to two forceful blows to the head, and then been left without clinical treatment for at least two days.
When interviewed the defendant said that he had been told by his brother and a family member to ‘get rid of the dog’. So on 9 January he had hit her on the head three times with a club hammer and she had ‘gone down’. The defendant’s neighbours had heard what he was doing and leant over the fence, at which point the dog had ‘come to’. Even though he knew she was still alive, the defendant left her to die by herself.
“This is sickening cruelty involving extreme violence against a defenceless animal inflicted by someone with complete disregard for the suffering he has caused. It would have to be one of the most disturbing cases of animal cruelty we have seen in 2016,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA New Zealand CEO (Acting).
“Brownie’s suffering was completely unnecessary. When you have the privilege of owning an animal, it is your responsibility to care for them for their whole life – not just when it suits you. If the defendant could no longer have her at his house, he should have tried to find Brownie a new home. He could have asked his local SPCA for help or advice. There were several steps he could have taken and the fact he jumped immediately to beating her to death is unfathomable.”
After a kick from a cow dislocated her dog’s hind leg, a Hamilton woman left her dog to hobble about on three legs for two weeks without seeking veterinary treatment.
Robyn Tuhua, 55, pleaded guilty in the Hamilton District Court to one charge of failing to ensure that an injured animal received treatment that alleviated any unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress being suffered by the animal.
She was sentenced to 200 hours of community work, disqualified from owning any animals for 2 years, and ordered to pay veterinary costs of $557 and legal costs of $150.
The case began on 11 March 2016 when two SPCA Inspectors acting upon information received visited the defendants’ property in Hamilton. There they found Sasha, a tan and white, mixed breed adult dog. Sasha couldn’t put any weight on her right hind leg.
The Inspectors took Sasha into their possession for veterinary examination and x-rays. These showed dislocation and lateral deviation of the tarsometatarsal joint (a joint in the foot) of the right hind limb. The veterinarian concluded that the dog would have experienced moderate to severe pain and it would have been obvious to her owners that she had suffered a serious injury.
The veterinarian said that treatment should have been sought by the owners immediately following the injury, as leaving the injured limb unsupported, or allowing the dog to attempt to weight bear on the unsupported limb without a splint or bandage could potentially lead to further damage to the limb.
In explanation, Robyn Tuhua said the dog had been kicked by a cow about two weeks earlier. An appointment had been made with a vet but had then been cancelled due to financial constraints. A second appointment had been made for the following week.
The defendant surrendered ownership of the dog to the SPCA. Sasha underwent surgery to amputate the injured limb, and she has now made a full recovery and been rehomed.
“This case shows the kind of negligence we see all too much of in New Zealand,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA New Zealand CEO (Acting).
“Our pets are completely dependent on their owners for food, shelter, companionship, and treatment if they get injured or fall ill. If you own a pet, it is your responsibility to provide these fundamental things.”
“This case has come to court during the SPCA Annual Appeal week – which runs from 7 to 13 November – and helps to highlight the importance of our work protecting animals from abuse, neglect, and cruelty throughout New Zealand.
“SPCA Inspectors investigated a record 15,219 animal welfare complaints last year, but we need the public’s help to continue this vital work. Running the SPCA Inspectorate costs approximately $9 million each year but we receive no automatic government funding. We’re asking New Zealanders to please give generously to our annual appeal.”