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Cat and Dog Holiday Care

Reviewed by Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM on Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Posted December 20, 2013 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

The holidays are coming. Time to relax, celebrate, and to spend time with family and friends. Time to eat, exchange gifts, and eat some more. This is great for you and your crew, but what about your four-legged kids? After all, they too, are part of the family and you certainly don’t want to exclude them from the festivities. The fact is, if you’re not careful and don’t plan ahead, they may ruin some of those good times!

Though not always obvious, there may be many potential hazards associated with the holidays. Some of the more common ones involve the food, the tree, the decorations, the treats, and even your presents. A less obvious problem is that by not including pets in the fun festivities you risk ruining their psyche.

We all eat too much during the holiday season! The issue isn’t always how much we eat (that’s a given!) but what we eat.  Many holiday foods are fatty or greasy — the ham, the turkey (dark meat and the skin), the potato pancakes (deep fried), the gravies, and the snacks (chips, nuts, candy, etc.).  Other inherent food dangers are wrappers and bones which can lodge in the throat and cause choking, and toxins like chocolate, walnuts, and avocados.  Even if the food itself isn’t dangerous, the volume certainly can be.  As with us, obesity is a major concern for our family pets -- over 40% of our dogs and 25% of our cats are overweight. And yes, it is a lot easier to put the weight on than it is to take it off!  Sound familiar? Anything you can do at home to keep their feeding routines unchanged during holiday time and to keep them away from your food or leftovers will make things much easier for you and for them later on. To keep Felix off the table or to prevent Scruffy from drooling all over your own or your guest’s laps, I recommend feeding them at the same time that you are eating. If necessary, you can keep them out of the dining room altogether, but I don’t let them them feel left out if you can help it. If they are permitted to “hang” with you, please make sure your guests (and your kids) don’t give in to those sad eyes and feed them scraps from the table. Trust me, you do not want to deal

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Jeff has more than 30 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a licensed veterinarian as well as a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.