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The holidays are a time of celebration and rejoicing. Our pets, as family members, often join us in the festivities. We have as much fun buying and wrapping gifts for our furfamily as they have in ripping open the packages. There are, however, some potential disasters if precautions are not taken.
Holiday meals are a time for sitting around the table and creating memories. Dogs and cats also enjoy the taste of holiday cooking. But, unfortunately, their gastrointestinal system often doesn’t. Table food can often lead to vomiting and/or diarrhea. Although, the occasional small meaty tidbit is generally well tolerated.
Problems often arise with excess “too much of a good thing” such as fatty foods/meat scraps, chocolate and even “trash-canitis.” It is better to offer a new flavor of pet treat than table food. Be sure all garbage is secured where pets cannot self-serve. If your pet does overindulge, contact your veterinarian. The situation may involve observation and/or treatment.
Not only food but also decorations can be harmful. It’s best to not use tinsel on a tree. Cats love tinsel! In the process of playing with tinsel, it is often ingested, which can lead to a linear foreign body in the intestines. This is a serious life-threatening condition that often requires surgery to resolve. Christmas trees also pose a hazard when cats attempt to climb them, bat at bulbs or chew on light cords.
Don’t forget dogs also are at risk to the above hazards. For this reason, do not leave pets unsupervised in a room with the Christmas tree. Baby gates work well to keep some dogs from the room with the tree. Holiday plants such as poinsettias and mistletoe can be harmful to pets if ingested. Be sure to keep them out of reach.
Do not leave anything edible wrapped under the tree. Pets have an extraordinary sense of smell and will seek and consume. If your puppy or kitten is still in the chewing stage, even inedible presents can be consumed or at least rearranged.
The holidays can be disturbing for our pets. They are creatures of habit and are happy to have “status quo.” With the holidays, often there is moving of furniture to accommodate decorations, new routines with family members being home from school or work. Then there are the parties, company visits, hustle and bustle. Sometimes it is best to physically separate your pet from the activities. If he/she is inclined to slip out of an open door, be cautious when company is over, as guests will not be as diligent about latching the door behind themselves.
With a little planning and forethought, the holidays can be filled with memorable moments for the family, tail wagers and all.
Wishing you and your “best friend“ a safe and joyful holiday.
Dr. Nancy Schenck, D.V.M., of Four Loving Paws Veterinary Services, Inc., can be reached at 812-448-1415. If you have a question or pet-related topic for Dr. Schenck to discuss in an upcoming article, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.