Dr. Mickelson, DVM
Holiday Pet Preparedness
For many, the next couple of weeks will be filled with food, cheer and gathering together. Our pets are often involved in these celebrations and nothing can spoil a good time like an emergency trip to the veterinary clinic. These tips can help keep your winter holiday season from becoming not-so-happy – for you and your pet.
Have a Plan
Traveling for the holidays without your fuzzy companion? Make sure whoever is in charge of taking care of your pet is left with all necessary information in case an urgent issue arises.
1) Make sure they know your pets normal habits and any relevant medical history. Having your companion up to date on preventative care will help reduce the chance of a medical emergency. Vaccines, de-worming, preventative dental care and flea/tick preventatives given prior to your holiday travel plans are simple steps every pet owner should be familiar with.
2) Emergency contact information and care for your pet. The clinic will only be providing limited emergency services during the holiday season. Our number is 715-934-9055 and our message will always indicate whether or not we're available to assist in an emergency. Duluth has a clinic that is solely dedicated to small animal emergencies. They are open 24/7 on the weekends and holidays and someone is available to answer your call right away. They may be a little drive away, but a reassuring resource during an emergency situation. BluePearl Pet Hospital, Duluth, MN 218-302-8000 https://bluepearlvet.com/hospital/duluth-mn/
3) How will your pet sitter pay for any urgent medical care and do you have a financial limit they should know? Will you be able to reimburse them or should you have another form of payment ready? Discussing uncomfortable topics such as emergencies, cost limits and even what to do if your pets needs to euthanized while you're away, can help avoid excessively stressful returns.
It is never a bad idea to inform your routine veterinary care team of an individual or individuals that are authorized to consent to care for your pet in your absence. We can add this information under your account and we also have the ability to store your credit card in case your pet requires care in your absence.
Signs of a distressed pet
Regardless of whether your pet stays home with you, travels with you or stays behind while you're away, some signs and symptoms of a distressed pet.
Sudden and extreme change in behavior
Visitors and change of routine can upset pets, as can the noise and excitement of holiday parties. Even pets that aren't normally shy may become nervous in the hubbub that can accompany a holiday gathering. Your pet should have access to a comfortable, quiet place away from everything where they will not be disturbed. Great examples are a separate room or crate away from the commotion. It is imperative that no one follows them into their space; do not allow anyone to bother your pet when they go into their "safe place".
It is not uncommon for pets to become separated from their people during the holiday seasons. Traveling with pets can increase your risk of them taking off in an unfamiliar location. Visitors coming in and out of homes can be the gateway to a pet accidentally escaping out the front door. Identification tags and microchips reunite families. Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. All such services, microchipping and pet licenses, are available at leading edge.
As a rule of thumb, it's just a good idea to keep people food away from pets. If you want to share holiday treats with your pets, make or buy treats formulated just for them. The following people foods are especially hazardous for pets:
Chocolate is an essential part of the holidays for many people, but it is toxic to dogs and cats. Although the toxicity can vary based on the type of chocolate, the size of your pet, and the amount they ate, it's safer to consider all chocolate off limits for pets.
Other sweets and baked goods also should be kept out of reach. Not only are they often too rich for pets; an artificial sweetener often found in baked goods, candy and chewing gum, xylitol, has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs.
Turkey and turkey skin – sometimes even in small amounts – can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis.
Table scraps – including gravy and meat fat –also should be kept away from pets. Many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets, including onions, raisins and grapes. During the holidays, when our own diets tend toward extra-rich foods, table scraps can be especially fattening and hard for animals to digest and can cause pancreatitis.
Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.
Greenery, lights and Christmas trees can make the holidays festive, but they also pose risky temptations for our pets.
Christmas trees can tip over if pets climb on them or try to play with the lights and ornaments. Consider tying your tree to the ceiling or a doorframe using fishing line to secure it.
Water additives for Christmas trees can be hazardous to your pets. Do not add aspirin, sugar, or anything to the water for your tree if you have pets in the house.
Ornaments, tinsel and other holiday decorations can be tempting for pets to eat. Consuming them can cause intestinal blockages, sometimes requiring surgery. Breakable ornaments or decorations can cause injuries.
Electric lights can cause burns when a curious pet chews the cords.
Flowers and festive plants can result in an emergency veterinary visit if your pet gets hold of them. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are among the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets who decide to eat them. Poinsettias can be troublesome as well. The ASPCA offers lists of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats.
When you leave the house
Unplug decorations while you're not around. Cats, dogs and other pets are often tempted to chew electrical cords.Take out the trash to make sure your pets can't get to it, especially if it contains any food or food scraps.
Leading Edge Veterinary Services wishes everyone (two legged, four legged, fuzzy or feathery) an enjoyable holiday season!