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Holiday Pet Preparations

by Dan Franklin, DVM

Pets

T'is the holidays and the creatures are stirring...

While we’re immersed in preparations for holiday celebrations, our regular approach to petparenting is not enough. We need to be aware of how our cats and dogs are coping with the whirlwind of activities and changes in routine that accompany this festive season.

Decorations. From trees and plants to ornaments of every kind; fragrant candles to strings of tiny lights and sparkling tinsel, nothing is safe from a curious or disrupted pet. Consider it a toddler on paws — everything can go into a mouth, be played with, climbed, carried about, broken or destroyed.

As a result, the potential for intestinal obstruction from foreign body ingestion (think: surgical removal) looms large; along with burns, electric shock, injury and accidental poisoning.

Special Goodies — the more the merrier for a pet accustomed to the same kibble or canned day after day! Not. Holiday meals often feature rich foods, lots of sweet treats and tasty packaging. A cat or dog can get really sick from overindulging thanks to kindhearted guests or some good old trashcan raiding. Pets gaining any extra “holiday pounds” should be avoided, too.

Actually, maintaining your pet’s regular diet will prevent vomiting, diarrhea, food poisoning, intestinal foreign bodies, and acute pancreatitis, a condition that requires hospitalization and aggressive medical management.

People Presents. An unsupervised pet can become quite creative. Wouldn’t it be fun to retrieve a little gizmo that rumbles and rings? Better yet, how chewy (and waterproof) is a “smart phone”? What about human toys that look like pet toys? A perturbed kitty can sink its teeth into soft leather or claws into fine wood. Earrings show up great on X-rays and are even more fun to retrieve! Remember the wrapping papers, boxes and ribbons, too.

Diligent gift-patrolling will also preclude any intestinal blockages via foreign body ingestion, which, as you’ve probably surmised, is one of the greatest holiday health risks for your cat or dog.

Party! Whether your pet is a “party animal” or not, holiday gatherings can send cats scurrying under beds or into closets and entice dogs to “talk” to all of your guests, herd them around or take off in the opposite direction, so plan ahead to provide comfortable, secure havens for pets during your festivities.

After all, prevention and common sense are the keys to keeping this season of traditions and celebrations safe for your pet and enjoyable for you!

View more articles from the November/December 2014 issue