Friday, February 22

Tamara's Training Tips: Sweet Treats and Your Dog

Starting around Thanksgiving and going until a little after Easter, I get a lot of questions about how to keep dogs out of candy, cookies, chocolate and other types of human treats.  Along with the questions, I get a few panic ridden calls when the dog consumed one of these items.  Today I will be giving tips on how to dog proof these treats and what to do if your dog does get into them.

I think we all know that chocolate (the darker the more dangerous) is toxic for dogs, but what about other candy, cookies or pie?  The answer is not a simple yes or no.  It really has to do with what is in the sweet treat.  For instance, if it is a peanut butter cookie, a small amount is probably okay if your dog is not allergic to peanut butter, but a whole dozen is not good.  That much sugar is not good for a human, so it surely is not good for your dog.  But is it toxic?  No.  But they will (most likely) be sick.

The most common problem I encounter with these sweet treats being brought into the home is that they are usually stored in a place your dog can get to.  This is the first big DON'T!  If you have a large dog or dog that can jump, storing things that are off limits to them on a counter or shelf is not a good idea.  They will just get up there to get it when you are not there. 

Most people figure that part out right away, so they go for a cupboard.  The second DON'T is not to underestimate the intelligence or pure will power of your dog.  If they really want something, they will figure out a simple swinging door to get it.  Some dogs will even figure out a door knob to get what they want, yes I have known this to happen.  So if you store your sweet treats in a cabinet or cupboard, either install a child lock on the door or if there is a knob, install a knob lock or even a slide lock, though some dogs have figured out simple slide locks.

If your dog does not give up and starts scratching at cabinets, surfing counters non-stop, or obsessively going through your kitchen, it is time to restrict their access.  Create a barrier so they cannot be in the kitchen unless you are there with them.  If this does not help, you can restrict the access to none.

When you are home you can monitor your dog and the choices they are making and reward them for the correct ones, but when you are not, they are on their own to make whatever choices they want and to reward themselves.  The only 100% way to know your dog will stay out of trouble is to crate them or keep them in their designated area (such as a dog run, special dog proof room in the home or even a bathroom that has been dog proofed).  If you elect the crate, please make sure your dog is crate trained.

If you have done all you can and your dog still finds a way to eat your chocolate covered cherries, call your veterinarian or emergency veterinarian ASAP.  Remember that milk chocolate is the least toxic and baking chocolate is the most toxic.  The size and weight of your dog will also factor into what effect the chocolate will have.  If you find your dog still consuming the sweet treats, you can use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (depending on the size of your dog, small dogs as little as 1 teaspoon - 1/2 tablespoon, in larger dogs 1 tablespoon - 3 tablespoons ).  Be prepared, it works fast.  But if you do not know when your dog digested it, DO NOT induce vomiting, call your veterinarian. 

* Please note that inducing vomiting should only be used in this type of instance (food toxin), if your dog has swallowed an object or poison this SHOULD NOT be done, it can cause more damage than good, immediately call your veterinarian.

As the sweet treats continue to roll in through the next couple of months, I hope these helpful tips keep you happy and your dog safe!

Have a great weekend and don't forget to do something special with your dog!