TRUCKEE, Calif. - Ho Ho Ho! Happy holidays to one and all. 'Tis the season to be jolly, but let's not let our pets fall prey to human folly! We made it through Thanksgiving without major obstructions or pancreatitis.
As veterinarians, we want our patients to have happy safe holidays, yet we are often busy treating the same problems every year. It is very simple, really. Our pets love bright shiny things, and anything that even suggests food has to be inspected, which of course includes tasting, or better yet, sometimes swallowing whole! The latest fad these last few years has been eating glass Christmas tree ornaments. I don't make these things up. The worst thing I have ever seen was the insides of a dog that ate the net that covers some turkeys. You cannot get the whole thing out through one hole or even two or three.
The other common problem this time of year is toxicity from rat poison and antifreeze. Please use traps instead of poison for rodents, and if you must use poison warn your neighbors and only use the anticoagulant type because there is an antidote. The other type has no antidote at all. It is much the same with antifreeze only faster. It is very difficult to treat at best requiring intensive care for several days. If you leave your house for the holidays, or rent one, please do not use ethylene glycol antifreeze in your toilets or sinks. Check there isn't any present before you let your cats or dogs loose! Antifreeze tastes like sugar water and almost any species will drink it willingly. If you are topping up your radiator clean up any spilled coolant immediately. Cats will crawl under a hood to lick spilled antifreeze and it does not take much. If you have cats I would avoid tinsel on the tree and any decorations of food on strings. My cat loves to leap out of the tree at shoulder height, terrify me and land on my shoulder. He can reach anywhere in and on the tree, and does, and your cat may well too. A big dog will simply knock the tree over and take what he/she wants. Those popcorn balls beckon.
If you are traveling with your pet over the holidays be prepared in advance. Get your vaccines and health certificate as far in advance as possible. Check with your airline for their specific requirements and limitations. See your veterinarian for sedatives or anti-nausea medications well in advance. Take your pet's medications, and if traveling in a car, bring extra food and water for your pet too in case of delay. There are excellent harness-seatbelts available for dogs today and that would be the perfect holiday gift for the traveling canine companion.
Happy holidays and peace on earth for all, please.
- Dr. Brooks Bloomfield is the owner / veterinarian of "The Doctor's Office for Pets." If you have a pet topic/issue you would like to see covered in the VETCARE PLUS column, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org