From the Doctor’s Desk

The holiday season is upon us and our minds start to think of warm meals, evenings by the fireplace, family gatherings and celebrations with friends. It is a time to give thanks, reflect on the past year and to make plans for the next. With all of the hustle and bustle, we must remain vigilant of our furry family members. We want to shower them with love and gifts as we do our human family members, we want to celebrate with them as we do our human family members and many want to feed them like they do our human family members.  Here are some things I think everyone should be aware of before the holiday officially begins. Tips, if you will, so hopefully we can all spend the holidays in the warmth of our family homes and not in the cold, sterile Veterinary emergency rooms…

  • It is very easy for a dog to overeat. In fact, they will not stop eating even when they become full. They will eat until there is no more food available. It is okay to celebrate with your pet but do not feed him the same plate you would get. There are countless foods that are harmful to them beyond just over filling them. If you want to include them in the feast you are preparing give them just a small portion of white meat turkey. Dark meat is too fatty and will cause diarrhea while onions (and other foods) can cause kidney failure.
  • While most people know that chocolate is dangerous to dogs there is a common misconception that all chocolate will have the same deadly effect. In truth, the true danger lies in the baking chocolate. If your dog gets a hold of the (often bitter tasting) baking chocolate, it is important to contact your local emergency Vet immediately. Baking chocolate can be deadly. If your pet gets a hold of your normal run of the mill sugary confectionery chocolate (like Hershey bars, Dove, Godiva) they will be okay. The most common reaction to eating this type of chocolate (which is loaded with caffeine) is GI upset with diarrhea. If this happens, feed them a bland diet of boiled chicken and white rice (50/50) until their bowel movements become normal. As always, contact your Vet if you are concerned.
  • Be mindful of the household decorations you use to “deck the halls”. Tinsel is always a bad idea. When a dog or cat eats tinsel (and they will eat the tinsel), it often times collects within the intestine, similar to a birds nest. When this happens, the bowels cannot function as they normally would which can result in part of the intestines dying from lack of blood flow. Sometimes when an exploratory surgery is done we can go in and just remove the blockage from the intestines. Sometimes we have to remove part of the intestines. Both options are necessary to save the pets life and both are invasive and expensive. It is better to just leave the tinsel at the store.
  • On the topic of decorations, be careful which types of plants you bring into the house. Poinsettias are the it plant of the holidays, but they have a dark secret of being toxic to cats. The same goes for lilies of all kinds. While some species of liliy are less toxic than others, its better to just play it safe. If you love the look of these plants in your house (and why wouldn’t you, they’re lovely) be sure to keep them up high, away from your cats reach. Cats may have 9 lives, but they will use them all trying to nibble on these plants.

In short, it is possible to have a fun, pleasant, and somewhat relaxing holiday with pets. Just make the holidays a little bit easier on you and your family by staying vigilant of these hidden dangers.

From our family to yours, we hope you have a wonderful, safe and stress free holiday season!