Today, on the threshold of Christmas, we’ll deal with food intake, and next week we will continue with ‘What not to do to pets during the festive seasons.’

Well, Christmas is around the corner and the imbibing and engorging has already begun. Of course, I am referring to us humans. It seems that as we stuff ourselves, we feel that our canine and feline wards must get ‘Christmas’ too. Dogs get chocolate and biscuits; you know, the ones Auntie has sent in a tin from overseas. Cats get ‘Fancy Feast’ and all sorts of inappropriate Leckerbissen that produce unneeded calories and even indigestion.

I want to believe that if I did a statistical analysis of my records, it would show that, around this time of year, animals presented in the clinic are predominantly suffering from food related maladies. It seems as if we feel compelled to share our culinary bounties with our pets. So ‘Rover’ gets pepperpot with ‘nuff’ bones to gnaw on; and ‘Felix’ gets curried chicken. No one stops to think that casareep might be bad for the dog and that the spices in curry could give the cat a ‘bad stomach.’

May I humbly suggest that our pets do not understand or care to be educated about the theological implications and scriptural significance of Christmas. They just would prefer their ordinary, bland, relatively spiceless fare, namely, the food that is offered every single day during the year. May I further propose that you do not get angry with ‘Brown Dog’ and ‘Kitty’ when they turn up their noses at your haut cuisine which you have spent hours preparing. After all, it has not been proven that pets have a predilection for parsley (the alliteration is purely accidental).

Before I close off today, let me share this paragraph with you. It has been extracted from one of my smart vet books:

‘Please, come and get me,’ this (spayed) female dog seems to be saying as she waits at the GSPCA for someone to offer her a good home as her Christmas present.

“Physiological control of appetite and food intake are mediated through the Central Nervous System. Specific sites in the hypothalamus appear to control feeding behaviour. Destruction of the ventromedial hypothalamus results in overeating and eventual obesity. Lesions in the lateral hypothalamus generally result in complete anorexia for periods of up to two weeks. Stimuli at either of these levels may override stimuli from other levels. Thus, while destruction of the ventromedial hypothalamus results in overeating, stimulation of this same area causes cessation of feeding.”

Is there any wonder people get the impression that scientists are from a different planet? Well, they can confuse, obfuscate and kerfuffle as much as they wish. We know that while certain centres of the central nervous system are basic to the control of appetite and feed intake, there are many internal (worm burden, for example) and external influences (eg, squibs and firecrackers) that can alter basic feeding behaviour.

And that is all we need to know.

Now armed with all this wisdom, you may sally forth and truly enjoy Christmas with the family and friends, while ensuring that no one near you and your pet explodes squibs.

Happy holidays to you all.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.

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