Ask the Vet: Six tips for avoiding that holiday trip to the pet hospital

December 3, 2019

We’ve all eaten too much food at some point during the holidays, but most of us will not try an appetizer of tinsel or a main course of turkey bones.

Pets are a different story. Every year at this time, dogs and cats start swallowing some ill-advised holiday foods — and things that aren’t food at all. So the staff at BluePearl Veterinary Partners, which has animal hospitals in more than 20 states, are expecting to see the usual influx of pets during this holiday season.

Cats love anything that’s long and stringy – many have gone to the ER with tinsel obstructing their digestive tract.

And dogs – well, let’s face it, dogs will eat just about anything. Veterinarians have treated dogs who have swallowed Legos, batteries, coins, tennis balls, toys and other things that could easily be strewn across a bedroom floor during the holidays.

So BluePearl veterinarians have put together this tip sheet with suggestions on how to keep  their pets safe during the season. Take a look. These tips may help you avoid that journey over the river and through the woods to an animal hospital.

  • Don’t set your purse on the floor. Why would this be a holiday danger? First, it’s easy to do when many of us gather. And it’s easy to overlook the curious cat or hungry dog who may stick a nose inside, and soon start gobbling medicine or sugar-free gum, which often contains a sweetener called xylitol that is deadly to dogs.
  • Don’t feed your dog chocolate – it’s toxic to them.
  • Be careful with leftovers. Chances are, your leftovers are too rich and fatty for your pets — which can lead to pancreatitis.  Some very lean turkey meat or a cooked carrot can be safe options. But your pets will not complain if you give them familiar store-bought treats.
  • You may feel like the Grinch if you tell your dogs they can’t have a turkey bone, but here’s the thing: They really can’t have a turkey bone. These splinter and can cause obstructions.  As your veterinarian for advice on the best chew toys for your dog.
  • Watch the door. With dozens of presents to wrap, cookies in the oven and a football game on the TV, you might not notice that 12-year-old Johnny just walked out the door. But Fluffy and Fido might very well notice, and use this opportunity to dart out of the house.
  • Speaking of which, make sure your pets are microchipped in case they do escape the house and get lost. Consider an electronic tracking device for your pets.

Here’s one more tip: Chill. During all the hustle and bustle, one thing that doesn’t change is that your pet will like spending time with you. Build in some holiday time to be with your pets. We’re pretty sure it will lead to purring and tail-wagging.

Originally published December 2018; updated December 2019. Photo: Meghan Copson