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Health tidbits you can use

DOGS IN THE GARDEN: If you're a gardener and a dog lover, here are a few pitfalls to be aware of, according to Dr. Jules Benson, vice president of Petplan Pet Insurance.

• Vegetables that can be dangerous if ingested by pets include onions and chives, which can cause red blood cell destruction; rhubarb leaves, which contain kidney-damaging oxalic acid; and members of the nightshade family such as eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes, which contain deadly alkaloids.

• Avoid cocoa bean mulches. Their chocolaty smell is enticing to pups, but just like chocolate, cocoa bean mulches contain theobromine, which is toxic for dogs.

• Herbicides and pesticides used in some popular gardening products can potentially make your dog sick. If you do choose to use these products in your garden, try to prevent your dog from digging in, eating or licking the treated areas. Consider installing some type of fencing.

• Heatstroke is a real danger in Florida. If you notice heavy panting, red gums, excessive drooling or lethargy, get your pet to an emergency clinic immediately while trying to cool the pet down with a fan and some cool, but not icy, water.

FEEL-GOOD BOOT CAMP: Want to do your body some good while doing good for others? Here's your chance. Julie Weintraub's Hands Across the Bay and Fit Body Boot Camp have teamed up for the 1,000-Pound Meltdown Challenge. Fit Body Boot Camp's Pinellas Park and Tampa/Oldsmar locations will offer 30 days of boot camp classes to everyone who donates $20 to Hands Across the Bay, a nonprofit group devoted to improving the quality of life in Tampa Bay. Why 1,000 pounds? That represents the goal of 200 participants each losing 5 pounds, explained Fit Body's Bryan Daskam. Morning and evening classes available. To sign up, call toll-free 1-877- 850-5237 or email by June 30.

SMARTER CHOICES: You may have wondered if something called Special K Chocolatey Delight cereal could really be all that good for you. Sorry, but nutrient-wise, you might as well eat Cocoa Puffs, say the editors of ShopSmart, who offer a rundown on snacks masquerading as healthy choices in its current issue.

Some tips:

• Read labels. Jif Creamy Peanut Butter and Jif Reduced-Fat Creamy Peanut Butter both have 190 calories per 2 tablespoons. The difference? The healthier-sounding one has less fat but more salt and sugar.

• Go for products with fewer ingredients. A long list with a lot of chemicals means heavily processed.

• Consider price. Pamela's gluten free Chocolate Chip Cookies costs 49 cents for a serving that Chips Ahoy gives you for 17 cents. Plus, Chips Ahoy cookies have 13 fewer calories, 1 gram less fat and 7 grams less sodium. Unless you really are gluten sensitive, it's not a healthier choice


"Juice is just like soda, and I'm saying it right here on camera. There is no difference. When you take fruit and squeeze it, you throw the fiber in the garbage. That was the good part of the fruit. The juice is nature's way of getting you to eat your fiber."

Pediatric obesity specialist Robert Lustig in the HBO documentary Weight of the Nation.

Staff, wire reports

As you're packing for vacation, make sure your health care coverage travels with you, advises Dr. Jonathan Scheff, chief medical officer for Health Net.

• Be sure to bring enough prescription medications, as well as any over-the-counter products, to last your entire trip. Pack meds in carry-on versus checked luggage.

• If visiting an area where diarrheal illnesses are common — Mexico, for example — ask your doctor if it's advisable to fill a prescription for antibiotics before leaving.

• Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website — — to see if additional vaccinations are advisable in your vacation destination.

• Before traveling, review your certificate of insurance to become familiar with your benefit coverage.

• Ask your insurer if you're covered for medical care at your destination, and where you should go for help. Don't forget to bring your insurance card.

• Take a personal health record summary with you that lists name, age, birthday, allergies, last tetanus shot, primary doctor/phone number and medical group name/phone number. Include emergency contacts and a list of current medications.

• If you have children who are staying home, leave a signed consent-to-treat form with their caretaker.

Health tidbits you can use 06/01/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 1, 2012 4:30am]
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