Dawn Armstrong
Special to the Tribune

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November 19, 2012
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Pet column: The pet owner grateful list

Companion animals appear at or near the top of the annual grateful list for pet owners. The unconditional love pets so freely give is a bonus to riches money can't buy: better mental and physical health, a better outlook on life in general, and a chance to return love in its purest form. Thanksgiving is a time to reaffirm the responsibility to protect as well as nurture these sentient, loyal creatures. Companion animals are 100 percent dependent upon their guardians.

Here's a list of reminders to keep our pets safe, comfortable and welcome as they enjoy the holidays along with their human family. Over the holidays veterinary emergency rooms fill with distraught owners and pets sick from preventable holiday related incidents. Dr. Tony Johnson, an emergency specialist on staff at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine sees accidental poisoning and swallowed foreign objects at the top of the emergency room holiday treatment list.

Make sure you have your veterinarians emergency number. Next to it write "800-213-6680," a pet owner and veterinarian poison hotline. For a $39 fee charged to your credit card, on-call veterinarians guide you and your doctor through a suspected poison emergency. The 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline service is available throughout the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. The nominal fee covers the initial consultation plus all follow-up calls associated with management of the case.

While it's OK if just a small amount of the poinsettia plant is eaten, mistletoe and lilies are toxic enough that any amount can cause kidney failure in cats. Marijuana also is toxic. Tummy upsets are caused when well-meaning pet owners offer rich, fatty, spicy foods to pets. Resist sharing anything but a small bit of lean meat, no fatty parts or poultry skin, no gravy or appetizers. Monitor the garbage pail. Make sure kids and guests understand the pet safety rules. No chocolate, no alcohol. Anything outside your pet's regular diet can trigger intestinal upset or serious inflammation of the pancreas or intestine, a life-threatening situation. Even the largest cooked turkey bones are prone to splintering, and shards can pierce through the lining of the intestine. Instead, treat with raw or cooked knuckle bones for large dogs or oxtails for small dogs, which can be safe if chewing is supervised. Throw bones out when they get broken into pieces that can be swallowed.-

Make sure pet ID is current - another holiday hazard is the revolving door as guests come and go. Pets often escape and get into expensive trouble. Planning a safe place for pets to avoid guests if they wish and for confinement when party activity escalates is a good idea. A crate trained pet can be comfortable and protected in his or her den. Baby gates can be put to good use as a confinement barrier.

If visiting others, do not assume that your pet is welcome. Ask your host prior to arrival. Be honest about how comfortable and polite your pet is when traveling and spending time in strange places. Honor the fact that friends or family members are allergic to dogs or cats, or afraid of them. Locate a nearby boarding facility. If there are resident pets, ask if they comfortable with other dogs or cats in their territory. If it's a go, make sure current ID information is on your pet's collar. Upon arrival, monitor new temptations such as food left in reach of your pet. Bring along the dog crate and use it during meals. Feed your dog separately, in the crate if possible. Be a good guest and clean up after your pet. Practice pet etiquette and enjoy happy family holidays together long into the future.

- Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and S.P.C.A. to help "Keep Tahoe Kind". Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 19, 2012 05:34PM Published Nov 19, 2012 05:34PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.