Resilience to Holiday Season Health Hazards

ByProf Franco Cavaleri BSc NB

Nutritional Biochemist

Original post: December 10, 2010




The holiday season brings with it a higher risk of poisoning, toxicity and irresistible traps for our unsuspecting pets. The common intoxicants of the season include chocolate, alcoholic beverages, holly berries and other plants like poinsettias and mistletoe. Chocolate and holly berries can kill. Tinsel is another common danger which can wreak havoc in the intestinal tract. The attractively lit up Christmas tree is full of harmful traps like the electrical cords which can ensnare your cat or dog or be chewed to charge them up with holiday voltage. Tree ornaments look like great play toys to our pets but the glass and plastic variety can shatter and splinter to present an obvious danger.


Most of us have heard about these dangers over again each year but these same dangers exist in one form or another all year round as carelessly stored prescription drugs, antifreeze, pesticides and even fruit bowls with grapes. Many human-intended foods can present serious health risks to our pets on a daily basis such as onions and even tomatoes but the chance of our pets getting into them only increases in the holiday season.


The best way to prevent encounters with these dangers is to obviously keep them out of reach. Use decorations on the bottom half of the tree which are not harmful and make sure those gifts bearing food and candy are not placed under the tree with the others. Advise guests about the dangers of chocolate, cookies and other human foods.


There is a lot more we can do to protect our pets from these dangers.

As diligent as we may be to keep these hazards out of reach we have to also be prepared for the worst. The best defence against these minor and major intoxications is an immune system prepared to protect the body. Immune system potency is a function of many things including gastrointestinal health, antioxidant saturation and immune system fuel availability. Nutrition plays a huge role in this multifaceted defence system and an adequate supply of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in the diet every day maintains a healthy saturation in the cells of the body.


The animals most vulnerable to these intoxicants are puppies, seniors and those convalescing. Chronological age is not the culprit; the vulnerability is caused by a compromised immune system in these cases; a depleted immune system which is not prepared to deal with the intrusion. Antioxidant and general nutrient saturation of the body is the foundation of a protected state. In fact, research on acetaminophen poisoning and liver status is a clear model which validates antioxidant-based preventive nutrition. The research shows that administration of a commonly supplemented antioxidant nutraceutical, n-acetyl cysteine (NAC), is the perfect antidote to acetaminophen poisoning and it does so by boosting intracellular glutathione in the liver and preventing liver failure from the poison.


Glutathione is a crucial detoxifier found in almost every cell of the body. Many other antioxidants help preserve and build glutathione status protecting the body from accidental exposure to such toxins. The problem is that we don’t always know when our animals have come in contact with poisons until it’s too late. In the case of acetaminophen and the NAC antidote, NAC must be administered within hours of poisoning to prevent irreversible damage. Timing is critical. Doesn’t it make sense to administer these protective substances to our pets daily in their food making certain the body’s antioxidant stores are always at saturated status and the immune system is at full capacity? The same applies to us.


Supplementing the diet with active antioxidant and other vitamin and mineral nutrients ensures this protection is established and it enables the body to deploy counter measures which neutralize poisons before they have a chance to inflict harm. It also improves the rate of recovery from injury. Our puppies, kittens and seniors can be as strong as any youthful adult and your adults made as strong as they should be to resist illness through antioxidant saturation; by way of daily supplementation of a healthy diet.


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