Holiday Hazards

Holidays are festive and in this country they frequently center around
meals. Many of the foods that we love for the holidays can serve as a
hazard for pets and ANY of the food can be hazardous to pets in excessive
quantities. Post-holiday visits for me often include pancreatitis cases.
Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) is a painful and life
threatening condition in dogs and cats. Dogs are often victims of this
process from eating high fat meals. Some breeds and individuals are
predisposed to this problem and certain foods seem to cause it more
regularly (at least in my practice). Be careful about what you are
currently eating (the foods that are displayed for consumption by guests)
and the leftover foods that have been disposed. A dog will exercise no
restraint when digging in the trash for tasty smelling leftovers. A typical
(and there really is no typical pancreatitis case) may require several days
of hospitalization and ICU and significant monetary expenses. There is obvious emotional stress to the owner, pain and stress to the pet and the risk of death. All of this is avoided by making sure that high fat people food is out of reach to pets.

Gastroenteritis is another post-holiday issue here. It is often not as life
threatening or expensive, but certainly requires medical intervention.
Any food that your pet does not normally consume can cause this problem,
characterized by vomiting and diarrhea. An uncomplicated case should respond within days to routine care given by your vet, but sometimes sick pets will require hospitization.

I don’t think that people realize that xylitol (sugar substitute found in
many sugar free candies and gum) is toxic to pets. Cats are not likely to
eat sweets because it is thought that they cannot taste sweet flavors, so
this more of a dog thing. I have had patients eat the whole pack of sugar
free gum and were in danger. Fortunately, the owners in all my cases
discovered the transgression and rushed in, but I have heard of others who
were not so lucky. Holidays pose a risk of exposure to more things, sweet
and sugar free that are not good for dogs. I think that a good rule of
thumb is to keep all things that are not specifically dog labeled out of
reach. As always chocolate, grapes and raisins are on the list of food not
suitable for dogs. A treatment for these types of ingestions could range
in cost, depending on the substance, amount and delay in treatment.
The faster you realize what has happened and seek help, the better for you both.
Many pets escape through doorways open for guests and are lost in the dark.It is always a good idea to microchip every pet, even indoor only ones and be SURE that you register the chip with the international database and keep your info current. We always encourage our clients to put us down as their veterinarian so that if they are unreachable, we can keep their pet safe
with us while they are located. Make sure all guests know if your pet is allowed outside unattended or not. A well meaning party goer may think your strictly indoor cat would like to go for a stroll!
Christmas tree ornaments can be enticing to dogs and cats to play with. I have surgically removed several of them from the intestines of my patients. I
suggest keeping the tree and decorations inaccessible to pets when possible. Be aware that wrapped gifts might conceal something your pet would find attractive.
If pets are unattended during the holidays, it might be wise to confine them to a safe room or crate. There are tools to help, ranging from tiny transistor collars that buzz or tingle when the pet approaches the Christmas tree to a simple baby gate strategically placed. Surgical foreign body removal can also be expensive and life threatening. One can expect a minimum cost for such surgery at $1800 with a likelihood of prolonged hospitalization.
So you can see that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in these cases. Accidents do happen and pets do get things that they shouldn’t. If your pet is acting ill, do not delay in contacting your vet.

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