It is getting to be that time of year again when we start to plan ahead for the holidays. We plan our gift list, decorations, meal plans and recipes. Maybe we even start to plan who is coming to stay or if we are going to travel. When making plans this year, it is also really important consider the needs of our furry friends so they can have a safe and happy holiday too. Just like Santa who has a list and checks it twice, this is a short list of friendly reminders to keep your pet healthy this holiday season.
- Make sure none of your baking includes potentially toxic ingredients. If you are avoiding sugar as a healthy choice this year, make sure to also avoid the sweetener xylitol. This can cause serious liver damage or lead to dangerous low glucose levels in dogs if eaten. Also make sure to keep all baking with chocolate, raisins, macademia nuts, or any uncooked bread dough well-away from your pets while baking or when stored just to be safe. Any of these ingredients can cause serious illness if consumed by your dog.
- Avoid unnecessary hazards. Decorations like toxic plants (holly, mistletoe, poinsettias) can cause gastrointestinal upset and possibly more serious symptoms if larger quantities are ingested. Make sure to hang decorations well out of reach of your feisty feline, as sometimes they can become accidentally ingested leading to obstructions in serious cases. Tinsel is generally not recommended for cat owners since it can be swallowed easily and create major problems if it becomes stuck in the intestines. Stick to larger decorations that are hung higher on the tree to avoid accidental injury. Also make sure any food-containing presents (ie. that box of chocolates, treats for your pets) are not placed under the tree or at animal level, since most pets can and will break through packaging to get at yummy-smelling gifts!
- Plan ahead. If you are having guests come to stay and you know your pet responds poorly to stress, make sure to discuss options for stress reduction with your veterinarian. There are many natural supplements and pheromone therapies which can be used to calm your pet safely for short periods of time. Provide a quiet area of your home where your pet can withdraw from company if they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. If you are travelling and your pet will be boarded, make sure that any necessary or overdue vaccinations are updated at least 2 weeks beforehand so they will be protected. It is also our recommendation not to purchase a pet as a present for a family member since this can be a stressful time for a new pet to join the family.
The staff at Erin Ridge Veterinary Centre would like to wish you and your family a very happy holiday this year and hope these tips can help your furry friend enjoy the holiday more as well!