Listen as Dr. Mindy Cohan talks with Kathy about adopting a pet and holiday safety tips!
Watching television commercials featuring dogs, cats and guinea pigs, I am reminded that the holidays have become a popular time to acquire new pets. As a veterinarian and pet parent, I must emphasize the importance of not making a hasty decision when deciding to bring a new pet into your home.
Pets require a large time and financial commitment and all family members should be involved in the decision making process. Basic pet care can be expensive and families must plan to keep funds aside in case of pet emergencies. Pet insurance should be considered so that finances do not dictate a pet’s medical care.
While surprising someone with a pet can feel exciting, it is not recommended. When recalling their first encounter with a pet, people often say, “the pet picked me” or “we were drawn to each other.” Selecting a pet is a very personal decision and the element of surprise denies that special bonding moment.
As the mom of only rescue pets, I must advocate for acquiring a pet from a shelter or rescue group. If a certain breed is a must for your family, search for pets through a rescue organization that specializes in your breed of choice. Otherwise, research reputable breeders.
Always schedule a veterinary check up with your new pet soon after it joins your family. A veterinarian can examine your pet for any health issues and is vital for providing sound medical and training advice. Even if your family has trained pets previously, dog classes are a great idea for ensuring both a well behaved and well socialized dog. Your pet’s veterinarian or friends are a good resource for training class recommendations.
Precautions for a happy and safe holiday
Christmas Tree Safety
• NO TINSEL! If swallowed by dog or cat, tinsel and ribbons can cause severe intestinal damage and possible death.
• Keep the tree well watered so needles do not dry and become a fire hazard.
• Always turn off lights when leaving home.
• Tree fertilizer can be toxic if ingested by pets.
• Make sure that tree ornaments are well secured so they do not fall and become consumed. Some dogs will even eat glass ornaments!
• Do not leave wrapped food items under the tree. Pets can smell goodies with their keen noses and will ravage the package.
• Exposed electrical cords, if chewed, are very dangerous to puppies, kittens, and rabbits
KEEP CHOCOLATE AWAY FROM DOGS!
• Theobromine is the toxic agent found in chocolate.
• Baker’s chocolate (bittersweet) is the most dangerous. White chocolate does not contain cocoa powder and is therefore less dangerous, but can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
• The onset of chocolate effects can be seen within 4-24 hours after ingestion
• Signs of chocolate toxicity include: vomiting, hyperactivity, seizures and death are possible
• If your dog consumes chocolate, call your veterinarian or poison control immediately
• Other food items that are unsafe for dogs and cats include raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions, and garlic. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugarless gum and baked goods can be fatal if ingested by dogs.
• Avoid feeding table food to pets. Some pets have very sensitive stomachs and just a small amount of table food can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Some fatty foods can cause a very serious condition called pancreatitis. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU FEED A BONE TO YOUR DOG.
• Poinsettias and holly berries can cause mouth irritation (drooling) and upset pets’ stomachs (vomiting), but they are not highly toxic
• Mistletoe can cause more serious illness and may be fatal if ingested. Hanging mistletoe in your home is not worth the risk to pets.
• Lilies do not pose a threat to dogs, but they can cause kidney failure and are often deadly for cats.
ANIMAL POISON HOTLINE (ASPCA) 1-888-426-4435, there is a $65 charge for each call.
• Always supervise Hanukkah and any other holiday candles. Be sure to keep open flames out of cats’ reach.
Who can’t resist buying your furry friend a new toy for the holidays? Choose toys wisely! Avoid gifts that can be destroyed or ingested if your dog is prone to “destuffing” plush toys. Stuffing, squeakers and other toy components can lead to obstructions if ingested. Although cats love to chase ribbon and string, if ingested, these materials can be very dangerous. Be particularly careful to put away ribbon used for wrapping gifts.
• Avoid “indestructible” toys as they can cause severe irritation to dogs’ gums.
• Items such as real bones, Nylon bones, antlers, ice cubes and hooves can cause tooth fractures and should be avoided.
Holiday themed collars
Coats and sweaters for dogs
Holiday themed toys
Beds and fleece blankets
Paw wax to protect dogs’ paws from snow and salt or ice melt
Treat/food dispensing puzzles
Climbing posts for cats
Bake homemade treats
On the go water bottles for dogs