Pet Topics

Holiday Pet Advice: Should We Give It To The Dog??

by Dr. Ku

As the holidays draw nearer we often want to include our pets in our festivities. But not all of our treats are as safe for our four legged friends as we might think. One year I returned home to my very sick young hound, "Kona." She had correctly identified the presents under the tree as containing food items (unbeknown to my less discriminating sense of smell). Even at age 10 she would help herself to available goodies if left unattended for the day. Sure enough, she had not so neatly unwrapped four of five packages and eaten a can of nuts, several boxes of rich chocolates, and a bag of candied popcorn. Sound familiar? Luckily she was an 80 lb. dog, and the amount of chocolate she consumed was not enough to be toxic to her. She did, however, have a very hard time with the nuts and so did we cleaning up after her accidents over the next few days. "Kona" was lucky. A smaller dog, or a different dog with a more sensitive GI tract, might not have fared so well. Some animals develop a severe condition known as pancreatitis, often triggered by eating foods they are not used to. Sometimes called "garbage can enteritis", it is often associated with raiding the garbage, or receiving gifts from the table, such as turkey trimmings, gravy, candy, cake, chips, bits of roast, etc. Many of these items are given intentionally, out of love, and a desire to share with our pets what we would enjoy; but pancreatitis, if it occurs, is extremely painful, can actually be life threatening, as well as expensive to treat medically involving hospitalization, intravenous fluids and antibiotics, laboratory testing, and x-rays. Even "Kona" would have to agree, that the few minutes of pleasure she gleams from her forays probably aren't worth the hours of indigestion and mess that can follow!

Another interesting holiday item that we don't often think about is ribbon and tinsel. Cats love to play with string and ribbon or tinsel. Most cats will just play with it and have a great time, but a few will start eating it and get it caught up for days in their bowel loops, possibly even cutting off circulation in some areas. It can also get caught under the tongue and not be able to pass through. Sometimes we don't notice there is a problem for days until their inappetence or occasional vomiting trigger a visit to the veterinarian.

Not to discourage you from having fun with your pets this holiday season, here are just a few tips to help make the holidays fun and safe for them as well:

May you have a safe and Happy Holiday Season and a healthy New Year!