For most of us the holidays are a time to eat, drink and be merry with good friends and family. Our resident pet expert, the holistic veterinarian and author, Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM, offers pet lovers tips to refresh your pet IQ and offers some helpful hints so this Thanksgiving Holiday is joyous for you and your family as it is for your canine and feline companions.
- Be sure your pet is healthy, has his or her Id tags & collar, take a few precautions and use lots of common sense.
- Try to decorate your home according to the age, activity level and temperament of your pets and children. If they are young and active homemade expendable ornaments are a great safe family project.
- Holidays are hectic for all of us and that means stress for pets. To minimize stress, try to keep your pets’ diet, snacks and routine as close to normal as possible. Be sure your pet has a quiet place to go so he can relax when he’s had enough. This helps avoid behavioral problems, especially with children.
Dr. Carol’s TIP: Herbal Stress Remedy: Bach’s 5 Flower Flower Rescue Remedy is a natural mixture of five flowers. Place a few drops in your pet’s mouth, food or water bowl. It is safe and effective to relieve anxiety for you and your pet.
Dr. Carol’s TIP: Don’t Give Pets as Gifts
Holiday House Plants to Avoid with Pets
Holiday plants are more of a problem for cats than dogs.
TIP: Place plants up out of paw reach or consider safe alternatives like artificial arrangements made from silk
- Lilly’s are lovely but many varieties: Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca can cause kidney failure in Cats
- Poinsettias are often talked about but are very overrated. At worst they can cause an upset stomach
- Mistletoe especially the berries are quite toxic. They may lead to an upset stomach and fatal heart problems in dogs and cats.
- Holly can cause vomiting, diarrhea nausea and lethargy
- English Ivy
- Amaryllis can cause vomiting and diarrhea
Holiday Foods & Beverages to Avoid with Pets: Dogs & Cats
- Don’t allow your pet access to holiday spreads especially if you’ve got a chowhound
- Alcoholic beverages cause pets to get drunk, weak, become depressed and may lead to a coma
- Yeast Dough is a no-no. Uncooked raw yeast dough is problematic, especially if your dog decides to eat it.
- Once ingested, the raw dough rises in your dog’s stomach and leads to a painful stomach ache, bloating and vomiting. Dogs can become disoriented and depressed. The breakdown product of rising dough is alcohol, which can cause alcohol poisoning. Many cases require surgical removal of the dough. Even small amounts if eaten can be quite dangerous for dogs.
- Chocolate (bakers, semi-sweet, milk & dark) for dogs: if eaten this can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and an elevated heart rate. This can occur if a 10-pound dog eats ¼ ounce of baking chocolate. This is not usually a problem in cats.
- Tobacco products can be fatal for dogs and cats. Signs of nicotine poisoning usually develop in 15-45 minutes.
- Signs in pets include excitement, salivation, panting, vomiting and diarrhea. Then muscle weakness, twitching, depression, coma, and even cardiac arrest may occur.
- Coffee (ground, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans) Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant, leading to restless pets with increased heart rates, tremors and/or epileptic seizures
- Macadamia Nuts can cause muscular weakness, depression, vomiting, and disorientation along with tremors, stomach pain and muscle stiffness in dogs. This usually lasts from one to three days and most recover are fine. This has not been reported to occur in any other species.
- Grapes and Raisins are toxic to pets: The exact mechanism of action and toxic principal are still being determined by the ASPCA Poison Control Center but eating large amounts can cause kidney failure in dogs and there have been a few reported cases of kidney failure in cats that ate raisins.
- Watch for the string used to tie up your turkey or roast as well as the little red “pop up” thermometers. Dogs and cats love to eat these tasty treats which can cause intestinal blockage.
Dr. Carol’s TIP: No Bones, because they can splinter and lacerate your pet’s intestines
Dr. Carol’s TIP: Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which has a calming effect for people and pets. That’s part of the reason why most of us feel a little sleepy after our Thanksgiving feast. If your dog or cat is nervous because of all the festivity, give him a little turkey to calm his nerves.
Medications to Avoid with Pets
Keep all prescriptions and over the counter medicines tucked away and out of your pets reach. Remind holiday guests to store their medications safely as well.
During the holidays many vets have limited office hours. It is a good idea to keep the number of a convenient emergency facility posted in a convenient place as well as the number of the Animal Poison Control Center Consultation Services. (1-888-426-4435) (1-888-4ANI-HELP)
Always check with your vet before giving your pet medication. May medications that are safe for you can be very harmful, even deadly to your pet.
Less than 1 regular strength acetaminophen (325mg) Tylenol can be dangerous to a cat weighing 7 pounds.
Less than 1 regular-strength ibuprofen (200mg) tablet can cause stomach ulceration in a seven-pound.
Other Pet Wintertime Hazards and Safety Tips for Dogs & Cats:
- Antifreeze is deadly for pets! It also smells and tastes good to pets. Less than four teaspoons may be lethal for a ten-pound dog. A single teaspoon can be fatal to cats.
- Propylene glycol is a less toxic form of antifreeze and can be used instead of ethylene glycol. The brand is called “Sierra. It works just as well in your car but is much less toxic to your pet.
- Keep your pets out of the area you’re in when you change and/or drain antifreeze from your car.
- Check your car regularly for radiator leeks as they also contain anti-freeze
- Clean up any spills immediately and thoroughly
- Store in tightly closed containers and keep it in secured cabinets.
- If you think your pet has consumed anti-freeze, this is a true life or death emergency! Go to your vet ASAP and call ahead while you are on your way!
- Ice Melting Products like Rock salt and De-icing chemicals are irritating to skin, mouth and your pet’s paws and foot pads. Spritz your pet’s feet off with water when they come back inside is helpful. Signs of ingestion include excess drooling, depression and vomiting.
- Rat and Mouse baits are usually used more often in cold weather. Place baits in areas inaccessible to your pets. Peanut butter baits smell good are tasty to pets. Save labels and if think it’s been eaten by your pet, call their office and drive to your vet, ASAP. Most pets are treated with Vitamin K therapy and recover.
- Feed your pet a little extra when it’s cold. Pets need extra calories to produce energy during cold weather.
- Provide your pet with plenty of fresh water to avoid dehydration. Warm up the water and add a little honey or a bouillon cube to stimulate your pet to drink. Chicken noodle soup is great, and most pets enjoy a bowl every now and then. Snow is not an acceptable substitute for water.
- Bring your pet inside when it’s very cold and if he’s out for a while be sure to provide proper shelter with bedding and a wind flap.
- Groom your dog regularly to remove mats. This helps his coat provide proper insulation so he or she can stay warm.
- Frost bite risk areas include your pet’s ears, nose, tip of the tail and ears. Frostbitten area of skin initially turns a reddish color then becomes gray.
- To Treat Frostbite: give your pet a warm bath and wrap him or her up in warm towels. Don’t rub an area that has frostbite!
- Monitor heat lights and heating pads as they can get too warm quickly and can cause skin burns.
- Cats enjoy hiding under your car’s hood near warm engines. Before starting your car this winter, look under your hood and honk your horn.
- Watch out for frozen lakes, rivers and ponds. Pets can easily to slip and fall in frozen water.
- Be sure your pet is healthy as pets, like people are more susceptible to health issues in cold weather.
Give your pet lots of extra attention this holiday season, so he doesn’t feel like he’s been forgotten and left out of the festivities. Let your pet get into the gift of giving this holiday season by donating food, litter, or toys to your local shelter or favorite charity and put it in your pet’s name.
Always be prepared and remember the best gift of all is your LOVE!