The holidays are here! Ahh, a time of fun gatherings, good food, and lots of friends and family. It’s also a prime time for pets to contract digestive problems from getting into something they shouldn’t – like spoiled food or really rich sauces. Luckily, most digestive problems can be managed at home. Here are some tips and strategies you can employ if your pets contract food poisoning.

What Are the Different Types of “Food Poisoning?”

  1. Spoiled” food – Can be caused by toxic molds, or bacteria such as E. coli  and Salmonella. This occurs when food is contaminated by unwashed hands and sits at room temperature for too long. Leftovers that have been sitting in the refrigerator for longer than 3 days should be tossed out.
  2. Eating high-fat rich foods – These foods may upset the gall bladder or pancreas and cause vomiting or bloody diarrhea.
  3. An allergic reaction to types of food or preservatives (MSG, nitrates)  – This will result in diarrhea, rashes, or hives.
  4. Eating when stressed or excited.
  5. Over-eating of table scraps during a party.

Contrary to popular belief, crackers are not part of a balanced diet.

How To Avoid Problems During the Holidays

1. Avoid feeding any of the following “leftovers” from a party:
  • Processed meats – Ham, spam, sausage, jerky, dried fish or meat
  • Sweets – Cake, ice cream, cream pies
  • Rich Foods with gravy and/or sauce (including mayonnaise)
  • Seafood that has been sitting out at room temperature for longer than 6 hours (especially shell fish, clams, and oysters)
2. Don’t feed food that has been sitting in the fridge for longer than 3 days
3. Don’t over feed meats and treats.  Employ the 1:2:1 rule, and mix table scraps in this way:
Dr. B’s Ratio for Feeding “Holiday Scraps” to Your Dogs
  • 1 part meat (turkey, lamb, beef)
  • 2 parts starch (white rice, sweet potato or white potato)
  • 1 part cooked or raw (salad greens) vegetables

If you are going to feed snacks or meat scraps, be sure to compensate for the snacks by reducing your pet’s meals for the day (by 30 percent). Make sure none of the snacks/meat scraps have dressing, gravy, or sauce on them. For more info on how to feed your dogs a balanced diet using fresh food, check out Dr. B’s latest book.
4. No strenuous exercise or playing with your pets right after a meal. Wait at least 45 minutes for the food to digest.

Were you gone too long while Christmas shopping? Looks like someone stayed busy.

Solutions For Addressing Problems

Uh oh. So it happened. Someone got into the garbage, or ate something they shouldn’t have. Now what? Well, there are a few things you can do at home to help with food poisoning, vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration in your pets.Note: If your pet’s condition seems really bad (i.e. if you see blood in their vomit or diarrhea), take them to your local emergency veterinary clinic immediately.

How To Induce Vomiting

If your pet got into something non-edible or something very toxic (like dark chocolate), induce vomiting by giving 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. This will result in a foamy vomit (so do this outdoors, or have some newspaper handy for cleanup). After the vomiting stops, wait 2 hours and administer the following mixture with a syringe:
  • 1 capsule of probiotics (acidophilus)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
 Note: If chocolate was ingested longer than 1 hour ago, and symptoms such as drooling, shaking, or trembling occur, see your emergency veterinarian ASAP.

Home Remedies for Vomiting in Cats & Dogs

1. Refrain from feeding more food. If your pet is vomiting, you’ll want to remove the rest of their food and follow the instructions below to help stop the vomiting.
2. Baking soda water – Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to ½ cup of water. Give a little bit (tiny sips) of this mixture every 2 hours. When the vomiting stops, follow this up with a little bit of ginger tea (listed below).
3. Ginger tea – Grate 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger root or use 1 teaspoon of ginger powder and gently simmer it with ½ cup of coconut milk (found in the Asian section or canned milk section of your grocery store) for about 10 minutes.  Store this in a glass or mug for easy use.  Give 1 to 3 teaspoons every 1-2 hours.
4. Acidophilus – Give your dog or cat acidophilus capsules mixed with water, or a small amount of live cultured yogurt or kefir (see dose instructions below). Give yogurt once every hour (up to three times) afterthe vomiting has ceased.
  • 1 -2 teaspoons for a cat or small dog
  • 1 -2 tablespoons for medium sized dogs
  • 2-4 tablespoons for large dogs
5. Pepto-Bismol – For dogs only. This is toxic to cats! Give the following dosages after vomiting subsides,every 8 hours for one day only. If vomiting or diarrhea persists, see your vet.
  • ¼ tab for small dogs
  • ½ tab for medium size dogs
  • 1 tab for large dogs

 Home Remedies For Dehydration

If your pet becomes dehydrated, and the vet clinics are not open, you can try hydrating your pet by giving them coconut water or coconut juice (found at most grocery stores or health food stores).
  • Give 5 cc every 2 hours for small dogs and cats
  • Give 10cc every 2 hours for medium size dogs
  • Give 20 cc every 2 hours for larger dogs
  • Give 40 cc every 2 hours for giant breeds

Home Remedies for Diarrhea in Dogs

To stop diarrhea in dogs, mix and feed the following every 3-4 hours:
  • 1 cup of cooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup of canned coconut milk
Feeding Instructions:
  • Give 1 -2 tablespoons every 3-4 hours for small dogs (10 to 20 lbs.)
  • Give ½ cup every 3-4 hours for medium size dogs (25 to 40 lbs.)
  • Give 1 cup every 3-4 hours for large dogs (above 40 lbs.)
When the diarrhea seems to be getting better (after 1-3 days diarrhea should be less frequent, and stools should have hardened) add boiled chicken or beef  to the diet. Give ¼ cup of boiled meat per 1 cup of white rice. Feed three times a day in small portions.

Emergency Kit Supplies

Lastly, the following is a list of items that are helpful to have to prepare for a pet emergency.
  • Dose syringes to administer fluids and medications  3 cc small dogs and cats5 cc syringe for medium size dogs, 10cc syringe for larger dogs.
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut juice
  • White rice
  • Ginger powder or fresh ginger root
  • Thermometer
  • Paper towels, pee pads
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Probiotics (Kefir yogurt, Lactobaccilus acidophilus supplements in capsule form)
  • Baking soda

If you have any questions, feel free to leave us a comment or send us an email. Again, if you see any blood in your pet’s vomiting or diarrhea, or, if symptoms don’t improve after 2-3 days, contact your local veterinarian immediately.