By Bill Barboni, DVM and Chris Pitts, RVT, Marin Pet Hospital, San Rafael, CA
As the holiday season kicks into full gear, excitement can sometimes overrule precaution. We want you and your four-legged friend to have a wonderful, stress-free holiday season. To that end, here is a list of things to be on the lookout for and avoid.
Do not put food gifts under the tree. Dogs are really good at sniffing out food. Many times, they will eat food, gift wrapping and all. Not only is the type of food a concern, e.g., chocolate; the wrapping can cause trouble, too. Ribbon can cause a linear foreign body, which is a telescoping of the intestine upon itself. The intestinal tissue can then have the blood supply cut off, which is extremely dangerous.
Poinsettias, while pretty and emblematic of the season, can cause stomach upset if eaten. It is best to keep them far out of reach of noses and paws. Mistletoe is very toxic, so secure it tightly and keep it up high.
Glass ornaments and lights can wreak havoc on your holiday if your dog thinks they look yummy. Yes, your dog really can chew up glass and eat it. This does not make him a stud.
Electrical cords can also seem like good chew toys to the four-legged kind. Obviously, if the cord is plugged in this is a doubly bad idea. Electrocution can cause singed fur and roof of mouth, drooling and pawing at the face (because the mouth is painful).
Bones. The family dog may give the turkey a come-hither look, but do not give Fido any bones. Bones can become lodged in the throat, stomach or intestinal tract. Small bones of any kind are in the do-not-give category as well.
Aluminum foil can also be tantalizing to Fido. A nice piece of aluminum foil covered in gravy may prove too much to withstand, so be sure to keep food waste and wrappers in dog-proof containers.
Having family and friends over for the holidays may be a joyous occasion for you, but many dogs find it stressful to have their homes invaded. You may consider creating a room Fido can escape to that has a bed, water, food and a favorite toy. In extreme cases of anxiety tranquilizers may be needed. You should discuss this option with your veterinarian.
If Fido decides to take things into his own paws and eat presents at will, it is nice to have the Animal Poison Control number on hand. There is a fee for this service, but well worth it if you are in need. Call 1-800-426-4435.
Happy Holidays to all of our furry friends!