A Nutty Way To ‘Treat’ Your Pets

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - December 23, 2009
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December is always a wonderful time of year in Hawaii. Gone are the scorching hot days, and with temperatures dipping into the 60s we dust the cobwebs off our winter coats and shiver in the brisk air. Still, our Mainland family and friends envy us as they get pelted with snow storms and wind chills dipping below zero. Good to be us. Indoors, the kitchens are busy cooking up sweet treats and delicious holiday fare. Between us and our furry counterparts, the “drool-factor” is at an all-time high.

Although ‘tis the season to be jolly and generous, we need to be careful when it comes to our pets. Sometimes we can be too giving. The following actually happened and undoubtedly continues to happen in many homes today. Read carefully and take notes, it could save a life (pretty dramatic, huh?).


It was a busy winter morning and our appointments were filled with clients coming in for annual exams and tranquilizers in preparation for the New Year’s fireworks. Because of the holiday season, our break room slowly filled with treats of all kinds: cakes, cookies, candies and yes, unfortunately, calories.

Waiting in the exam room was Sissy, a 4-year-old female Shih Tzu. She came in because Mrs. Campbell thought Sissy walked funny. Sure enough, a physical exam showed Sissy wobbled as if she had one too many glasses of wine. We ran a routine blood test and took some X-rays with hopes of identifying a reason for her “swagger.” As is the case in any challenging medical condition, everything turned out normal.

I reviewed her history with Mrs. Campbell, trying to find any clues as to what was going on. According to Sissy’s owner, Sissy had been very healthy until she woke up that morning. Mrs. Campbell did admit to staying up late at night so that she and Sissy could finish baking five batches of cookies for their family and friends. It was then that I noticed the bag of goodies that Mrs. Campbell had sitting neatly in her lap.

“Is that the fruit of your hard labor?” I asked

“Yes, Doc, this package contains the best macadamia nut cookies on the island. Sissy and I made it just for you and your staff,” beamed Mrs. Campbell. Aha, a clue.

“By any chance, did you give Sissy any macadamia nuts while you were baking?”

“Oh, of course, Doc, I needed to give momma’s little helper a treat. I don’t think I gave her too much, though.”

Upon further reflection, Mrs. Campbell admitted to giving Sissy about a dozen macadamia nut pieces, although I suspected it still might have been a bit more. I went into great detail concerning the dangers involved with macadamia nut ingestion. After a night of hospitalization and treatment to flush her system of the toxin, Sissy was as good as new.

Weight gain is a common phenomenon during the holiday season. With all the festivities and treats, we can’t help but give in to our temptations. Are animals tempted, too? You bet. Sissy didn’t know that macadamia nuts were bad for her. She just thought, “yummy, more please.”

Be careful when offering food items to your pets. What seems harmless may actually be very dangerous to your furry family member. Even Santa takes a trip to the wild side, so remember, “He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.”

Merry Christmas!

Pet Tip:

Giving table food to your pets can be good for their health, but you need to give them items that are safe. Ask your veterinarian if you’re not sure about the food you’re giving your pet.

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