Welcome to Buckley Veterinary Hospital’s monthly pet care column. The holiday season is here! This month we are discussing keeping your pets safe and healthy during the holidays, including the importance of not feeding table scraps to avoid stomach upset and intestinal obstructions, and reducing your pet’s anxiety.
While the holidays are a time filled with spirit and festive gatherings, it can also be a very stressful time for our pets. We put together some helpful recommendations below from the American Veterinary Medical Association and ASPCA on how to plan a safe holiday for your furry family members.
Guests may cramp your pet’s style, so keep their favorite place free from the holiday clamor so they can relax. If a spare room or pet crate isn’t available, think about boarding your pet for a few days if they become too anxious amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Keep poisonous and dangerous plants away
Plants like mistletoe and poinsettia are poisonous and ingested pine needles can cause digestive tract blockage. Keep your pet from ingesting/chewing on these plants and you will likely save yourself a trip to your veterinarian or emergency vet.
There are a variety of decorations that can cause problems for your pet. Ribbons and tinsel are frequently implicated in veterinary hospital bowel obstructions. Light cords, when chewed or frayed, can cause severe burns or electrocution. Prevent these mishaps by keeping decorations out of reach or secured in an inaccessible area.
Make holiday trips safe and prepare for them well in advance. Take special precautions when traveling with your pet no matter how you choose to travel. Flying or driving over state/country lines often may require a health certificate and/or proof of vaccinations. Before departing, consult with your veterinarian/airlines about how to properly prepare for a trip.
Table scraps aren’t pet snacks. Many holiday foods are loaded with fat and sodium and can cause stomach upset. Chicken bones can easily get stuck in the digestive tract and other foods like chocolate or onions can be poisonous. In short, people food is meant for people, not pets. Be greedy and keep it for yourself.
Because chocolate can cause illness and even death in pets, it should be avoided completely. Chocolate contains theobromine, a potent cardiovascular and central nervous system stimulant that is eliminated very slowly in pets.
If your pet experiences chronic or occasional stomach upset, consider discussing diet recommendations with your veterinarian.
As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a pet’s intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers and fireworks can cause anxiety and cause possible damage to a pet’s sensitive ears.
Most of these recommendations sound like they take the fun out of the holidays, right? That’s not our intent. We’re merely acting as spokesmen for your furry loved ones. We want to stress the importance of recognizing prospective hazards and to bring to your attention, the safest ways to celebrate the holidays with your four-legged best friends. Prevention is the best medicine.
Looking to treat your pooches this season? Holiday recipes for a healthy homemade pet treats:
Take solid canned food and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Cook in the microwave for approximately two and one-half to three minutes or, in a conventional oven, bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serve this semi-crispy/crunchy treat to your pets on special occasions. Use dry food by grinding it into flour using a blender, then add water until it is the consistency of dough. Make into cookie shapes and bake on a cookie sheet for approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
In regard to anxiety, our veterinarians offer several avenues to help cope with changes in your pet’s environment and stress from noise and high traffic during the holiday. Some owners would rather not use drugs to treat a stressed dog or cat. One alternative you might see on store shelves are pheromone-based products in various forms, including sprays, plug-in diffusers, wipes and collars.
Cat pheromones can help with problems like scratching and stress while traveling, being boarded or during visits to the veterinarian’s office, and can ease the stress of a cat moving into a new home. Dog pheromone products are used for general stress, separation anxiety, noise phobias like those caused by storms or fireworks, and travel. Depending on the underlying causes of these issues, pheromone products can make a noticeable improvement or aid as a supplementary treatment.
Light sedatives can be prescribed under severe circumstances to aid in calming you pet’s. Herbal remedies and flower essence formulas designed to ease anxiety can often provide relief for pets – many work well in conjunction with veterinary treatment.
Please consult your veterinarian if you have questions regarding your pet’s stress during the holidays. If you feel that your pet may have ingested something abnormal, as we have mentioned in this month’s article, immediate veterinary attention is recommended to avoid severe complications. Education and prevention are key.
Thank you to our readers – we welcome you back next month. Please, send questions, comments, or suggestions for future columns to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy holidays!