As we’re prepping for the holidays, wrapping presents, making lists and cooking up lots of festive goodies… it’s important to remember that we need to be mindful about our furry friends and making sure that they have a fab festive season too.
Yes, with a new toy and lots of snuggle time, but also ensuring that we don’t end up needing to make a hasty trip to the vet.
Vet Surgeries and Animal Emergency Centres are at their busiest over the holidays. But there are some super simple things we can do to make sure that our fur-babies (feathered friends, scaly sweeties or, erm…. well, whatever type of pet you have 😃) stay happy and healthy over the holidays.
The main reason for vet visits at this time of year is due to out pets eating things they shouldn’t – wrapping paper, toys and ribbon included! But the biggest offender, is when our pets indulge in food that they shouldn’t.
I know those huge puppy eyes and adorable faces are crazy hard to resist as they longingly gaze at you (and your leftovers). But should you toss them that extra treat or sneak them some stealth snacks under the table?
I caught up with Bondi Vet, Director of Australia’s busiest emergency pet hospital (Animal Emergency Service) and Author of ‘First Call For Dogs’ (yep, she knows what she’s talking about! 😃 ) Dr Alex Hynes for her expert advice.
It’s a wonderful time of the year! Full of good cheer, loved ones and lots of food and drink. Whilst we want all our family and friends to come together to celebrate, nobody wants to end up in the emergency room with their pets over the holidays.
The festive season is an extremely busy time of year for veterinary practices as there is more food around, rules sometimes slip around the holidays and it’s generally a more lively and chaotic time than usual.
While we receive a lot of different pets with a variety of injuries and illnesses over the holidays, food related incidents are the most common. And in good news, are mostly avoidable!
The top 5 Toxic Foods that cause pet emergencies over the festive season:
- Chocolate – the darker the chocolate then the higher the intoxication
- Raisins, sultanas and grapes- found in fruit cake and mince pies
- High fat foods – Christmas meal leftovers are often fat laden (think butter, creams and fatty meats)
- Macadamia nuts- in baked goods and pre-dinner nibbles
- Xylitol – found in gum, lollies and used as a sugar substitute in baking
These items are often in abundance at this time of year. Some of the foods listed above will cause gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhoea. However, depending on the amount ingested, some can cause more serious symptoms such as heart arrhythmias, seizures, or even organ damage.
Whilst you cannot watch your pet’s every move, there are some ways to ensure they stay away from these harmful substances and stay happy and safe this holiday season.
- Keep foods well out of reach and appropriately sealed. Don’t underestimate what your pets can reach or open!
- If your pets are food ninjas, it may be better to have them in another room when you are preparing Christmas goodies.
- Tidy up any spillages and leftovers straight away.
- Avoid feeding leftovers – it’s always tempting at Christmas (who can resist those big eyes looking up at you) but it isn’t worth the risk.
- Don’t wrap foody Christmas presents and think they’ll be safe under the under the tree. Your pup may sniff them out and help himself to an early present.
- Do not leave drinks unattended especially those containing alcohol – cats are especially skilled at drinking from glasses and cups.
- Ensure everyone in your home (including visitors) understand the rules and know not to share their food with the four-legged household members.
- Make your own festive – veterinary approved – snacks and treats so your furry friends don’t feel left out.
In small amounts here are some suggestions:
- Chicken (opt for cooked without bone or gristle)
- Plain popcorn
If you suspect your pet has eaten something toxic, speak to your vet immediately for advice. Never just ‘wait to see what happens’ as the consequences can be very serious. Acting fast will give your pet the best chance at a quick recovery.
Wishing you a pawsome Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Dr Alex Hynes is an emergency veterinarian, author and educator with an extraordinary passion for animals, life and her veterinary work.
Dr Alex has also released her first book, ‘First Call For Dogs – The first step in emergency care for your best friends wellbeing’.
Alex has dedicated her life to educating pet owners and advancing the area of emergency and critical care in veterinary medicine, so that sick and injured animals can have the care that they deserve at any time of the day or night.
Want to read more from Dr Alex?
- Wellness Essentials for Demanding Schedules
- Benefits Of Having a Paw-sonal Trainer
- Are Pets The New Multi Vitamin?