Tis the season to be merry! Not just us humans but our pets too! Not all, but some pets love the family coming to visit for the holidays. The extra attention, the extra food, what’s not to love?! Well, an emergency room visit to the vet is not lovable, that’s for sure! We always hope to see only healthy pets here at the hospital, but we know that accidents happen and pets can get sick. Especially if a pet is fed table food, that they normally never have. All too often, Uncle Bob or Aunt Sue, feels the need to sneak a few treats to the family pet, not knowing how dangerous it might be. Vomiting, diarrhea and pancreatitis is an extremely common reason to visit the vet during the holidays. Foreign body, unfortunately, follows close behind. New toys, new treats and all the wonderful decorations readily available to chew on, are common causes for possible blocked intestines. How does a pet owner prevent such things from happening? Be aware and make sure others are also.
Tell visitors not to feed the pets table scraps and if you have frequent violators of this rule, give them treats to feed that have your approval (carrots, green beans, potatoes). Be sure to make visitors aware that some foods are very dangerous for pets and shouldn’t be given at all. As far as decorations being possibly chewed on and ingested, you might want to get down on your hands and knees and look at them from your pet’s point of view. Look for what is now in their reach that wasn’t before. Are there cords that a pet might chew on? Some pet owners even might want to consider securing their tree so a rambunctious puppy or a cat that likes to climb, don’t knock it over! If you’ve never heard of needing to anchor your tree, consider yourself lucky and for laughs, google “pets in Christmas trees”!
Some flowers can cause serious GI upset and should be placed in areas that pets are unable to reach (although cats somehow always find a way, ugh). When it comes to the new toys and treats, unless already previously bought and tested, make sure they are size appropriate. Small balls for a large dog is a disaster just waiting to happen. Mice toys with strings for tails can be chewed off and the string can block the intestines. Some chew toys (raw hides, deer antlers, nylabones) can break off pieces smaller or larger than expected, becoming a choking hazard for that pet. It’s best to keep a close eye on pets with their new toys and treats so you can determine that they are safe.
Another safety concern, especially during the holidays but certainly all year long, is to make sure your pet is wearing ID tags with current phone numbers on them. Having visitors in and out of your house, increases the chance that a pet can sneak out a door and become lost. If you are bringing your pet with you while you visit others, it is especially important to make sure you have a cell phone number on your pet’s ID tag. Having a home number on an ID tag is pointless if you’re pet becomes lost in another state.
For your pet to be it’s merriest during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, try to stick with normal routines as much as possible. When visitors arrive, make sure your pet has a place to retreat to, away from everyone, if they choose to do so. Not everyone likes to be social, so giving your pet a spot to get away from it all might be the best present you could give them. Who knows, you just might need that quiet place too.