Happy and Safe Holidays For Our Pets

With the start of the Holiday Season, we all will be anticipating wonderful family meals.  Smoked turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie was the standard Thanksgiving meal in Dan’s family with occasional forays into Texas style barbecued ribs, mashed potatoes and gravy and a desert called ‘Heavenly Hash’.  We were all encouraged to eat heartily (interpret = over eat) and of course our pet dogs and cats would also get a heaping helping of our people food.  We all want to share our bounty with our pets during this season, but it would be better if we didn’t. 

There are many people foods that can cause gastric distress in our dogs and cats, and some that are just plain toxic.  According to the ASPCA Poison Control Center, grapes, raisins, onions, avocados, macadamia nuts caffeinated foods, and chocolate, among others, can all be toxic to pets, in some cases making them quite ill.  Even giving our pets leftovers that are not part of their regular diets can cause stomach upset or cause weight gain. 

 Foods are not the only dangers to our pets during the holidays, with holiday decorations and winter weather hazards high on the list. A recent article by veterinarians at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine provided a good review.  Tinsel, ribbons, ornaments, and holiday plants such as mistletoe and poinsettias can cause injury.  Pets not adapted to the cold weather can easily become hypothermic or dehydrated with very brief exposures to the elements.

  
 So we should be particularly cautious and attentive to our pets during this busy holiday season to make sure they don’t get into these hazards. If you suspect that your pet may have been exposed to one of these hazards, seek veterinary care immediately.  Quick medical care is needed for all of these hazards.

 If our pets do eat more than they should and put on those extra pounds, there are things we can do to get the weight off.  A recent article at the website LiveScience.com
lists a number of tips including dietary changes and exercise routines that can help.  Reducing high carbohydrate and fatty foods and increasing exercises such brisk walks can be helpful for both dogs and their owners.  And, it can be fun for both dogs and people to share these exercises.  Having an enthusiastic exercise partner may help us to stick to our own exercise.  One recent article described an Exercise ‘Boot Camp’ for dogs and their owners that helps both get into shape routines . 

A word of caution, don’t change your pet’s diet or exercise routine without checking with your veterinarian first. Not all pets can tolerate sudden changes in diet or exercise.  The same caution applies to us owners as well.  Don’t change diet or exercise without the advice of your physician.  We wish a happy and safe holiday season to all of you and your beloved pets.

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