Pet-Proofing the Holidays

Ensuring a safe season for your furry friends with tips from Dr. Jessica Radtke Maltez

Anticipation and merriment fill the air like the smell of holiday cookies in the oven; giving and love are the sprinkles on top. This time of year, spirits are made a little brighter, and comfort and joy are spread a little wider, but our sweater-clad arms don’t need to extend far to reach our precious furry family members. This ‘howl-day,’ while the Fa-la-la’ing is in full effect and sugar-fueled traditions aplenty, let’s not overlook the safety and, of course, festive spirit of Fido and Whiskers.

Dr. Jessica Radtke Maltez, owner, and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Victoria Veterinary Hospital, says the biggest issue in the clinic around the holidays is pets ingesting food that is not safe. “We see problems with dogs and cats eating things they shouldn’t -- more than any other time of the year. If it is served during the holidays, it seems that a dog somewhere has eaten it.” And just as this time of year can be stressful for humans, the same goes for our pets. New people, loud wrapping paper, that large water bowl with the tree that…just… won’t…budge… can be very overwhelming for animals. “It’s okay to use gates, pet enclosures, crates, and the like.”

With the colder temperatures settling in, Dr. Jessica says keeping a closer eye on our four-legged pals is a good idea. “Owners may think they’ll come back because it’s cold, but they end up wandering instead.” She says this especially goes for older dogs with dementia. While Dr. Jessica notes that dogs usually do well in the winter for quick bathroom breaks, ear tips can freeze, which she sees more often in outdoor cats.

A line item to consider adding at the top of your Santa’s Helper List is getting your pet microchipped. “Often, when people are coming and going from a house during a party, a dog or cat can accidentally get out and go missing -- before anyone notices. Having your pet microchipped, along with the usual tag with your information, increases the chance they will find their way back to you.”

Who’s a good boy? Fido is a good boy, and Santa will reward him! Puzzle toys are a great option to keep canine friends busy and to slow their eating, and of course, catnip is always a treat for feline buddies. She says to use caution with toys and put away any tempting favorites after playtime. “Dogs who like to chew will often swallow parts that cause blockages that need to be surgically removed.” Rope-style toys, especially, can be shredded easily and cause blockages. “The last place you want to spend your holiday is in an emergency room with your pet!” 

We always hear the phrase, “safety first,” but for our ever-faithful companions this season, fun and safety can go hand in hand with a little preparation and extra attention. Oh, and don’t forget to toss in a shiny new frisbee or feather wand for them to delight in, under supervision, of course. victoriavet.net

Foods Your Pets Shouldn't Eat!

Alcohol, Avocado, Garlic, Onions, Grapes (even small amounts), Caffeine, Coffee Beans, Tea Leaves, Chocolate , High Fat Foods/Trimmings, Bones from Poultry or Fish, Gum, Foods Containing Xylitol (can be found in some peanut butter!), Wild Mushrooms, Seeds and Pits from Fruit, Potato Skins/Raw Potatoes, Rhubarb, Walnuts, Yeast that is Rising (example, bread dough), Salt, Nutmeg, A variety of other spices. If your food is seasoned, it is probably bad for your dog!, Junk Food

Keeping your pets from eating something bad for them can be especially tough around the holidays, particularly with guests who may not know better and want to give your pup a table scrap or two. Dr. Jessica suggests calling your local veterinarian or checking with the Pet Poison Helpline if a dog or cat ingests something other than their typical food. 

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