Holiday Prep for Pets

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As we sat down to write this blog post, the entire staff brainstormed topics of interest for November and December.  We realized at Uptown Vets, we are gearing up for what we jokingly call “Foreign Body and Pancreatitis Season”, and that a few tips on how to avoid these problems would be timely.

In the next two months, we expect to see a nearly 100% increase in cases of upset stomachs, due to eating all sorts of unusual things.  Our most frequent offenders (in a VERY rough approximation of frequency) are:

(1)  In-laws:     Family visits are always a highlight of the holiday season, but family members frequently give table scraps, extra treats, and unusual items to pets.  In November and December, we see most upset tummies blamed on visiting [or pet-sitting] family.

To try and minimize the impact of family members on your dog and cat’s stomachs, stock up on treats and toys you know are safe, and let everyone know where they are.  Consider putting part of your pet’s meal in a bowl that the whole family can access and allowing “treats” from the bowl as much as people want.  This will help prevent weight gain and sneaking treats.  Pets may need to be kept in a separate room or kennel during meal times to minimize ingestion of table scraps and scavenging.

Be aware that visiting family may also have presents and luggage that contain foods and medications that may be toxic to your pet.  Make sure to keep these items well out of reach.

(2)  Decorations:  All the sparkly decorations, wrapping, and yummy smelling plants in your home are sure to attract pets’ attention.  Cats in particular seem to investigate decorations a little too closely!  Make sure you don’t have any toxic plants (including flowers, wreaths, and other greenery) in the home, and be cautious of lights, tinsel, and other enticing decorations.  If you suspect your pet has eaten something, let us know right away — our options for removing it are much better in the first 24 hours as opposed to a few days later once your pet is sick.

(3)  “Special” Foods and Treats: This covers everything from new pet-specific treats to table scraps to diet changes.  These commonly cause upset stomach with diarrhea, vomiting, and even more serious inflammation, such as pancreatitis.  High-fat foods are the most common offenders, so beware of fat trimmings, cheese, red meat, and “grain free” food and treats (these are often much higher in fat and oil content than traditional dog foods).  If your pet begins to show signs of GI upset (vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, decreased appetite…), let us know as soon as possible.  Often these patients will respond well to simple treatments in the early stages of illness, but may need more extensive care if symptoms go on for multiple days.

Be aware of what foods are toxic to pets, and make sure that any recipes including these ingredients are kept away from animals.  For more information on toxic foods and household items, check out the ASPCA’s website.  If you think your pet has ingested something toxic, you can always call us or the ASPCA Poison Control hotline.  The hotline will have veterinarians trained in pet toxicities who can determine if your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian, and if there is anything you can do at home to care for your dog or cat.  You can call them 24 hours a day, from any location.