It can be a rough holiday when a family member falls ill or we have to make an Emergency Room run so I’d like to share a personal memory to perhaps help you prevent a pet-related emergency this busy holiday season. There are so many things we simply know we SHOULDN’T share with our dogs and cats, yet we have all occasionally given in and pinched off just a little piece of the “foods to avoid,” slipping a treat to our pets. In many kitchens and dining rooms this holiday season you’ll hear, “Oh, just a little won’t hurt.” Unfortunately there are so many yummy things we simply cannot share with our furry family–not even a little bit.
Josie, a wonderful sixty-five pound Belgian Shepherd, once shared her life with me. She was adopted after it was discovered that the two boys in her original family were allergic! Raised following after two toddlers, sniffing out and picking up cereal, string cheese, and licking every food dish she could find, she was used to foraging! And because of this habit, shortly after Josie came to live with me we had a near disaster.
One day as I left home I wasn’t concerned about leaving behind the gifts of holiday candy stacked high on a table tucked behind the couch. But when I returned home hours later I quickly noticed the floor littered with paper cups, wrapping paper, and boxes that formerly contained very good candy! I was pretty sure that this wasn’t the cat’s guilty deed, so I went looking for Josie. There she was, lying by the back door, head down between her paws and looking guilty. She also looked miserable! She was panting and shaking, and couldn’t wait for me to open the back door to get OUT.
Oh my goodness! I immediately called a pet poison hotline and together we tried to estimate how much chocolate she’d eaten (some will say an ounce of chocolate per pound of dog) and then we tried to determine her emergency status. Josie was lucky! Fortunately I came home when I did, and I was prepared to give first aid of water, blankets, and reassurance. I did my best to keep her calm, watching constantly to avoid the possibility that she’d lapse into a coma. It was very serious business! Josie had diarrhea for days– and I learned a big lesson!
So, please think twice before treating your pet with something other than their regular food and treats. And I recommend using the web to learn as much as you can. You can learn a lot from simply searching “Foods Dogs Should Avoid” as well as the ASPCA website. You might also consider keeping the Poison Control Center number handy: (888) 426-4435.
And if you do see your pet has been eating something foreign or acting unusual I recommend calling the hotline just to make sure that you are prepared to take appropriate action. There are many hotline supports available with some prepared to connect directly to a Veterinarian—just have your credit card handy if you are going to need direct medical assistance. But more often simple home first aid will do the trick. Be prepared to provide your pet’s weight and to give an estimate of how much foreign food you believe was ingested.
And yes, also please pay special attention to what can be found in your yard as well as the holiday plants you’ve received as gifts. You already know that mushrooms and toadstools aren’t safe for your pets, but also prevent contact with Monkshood, Mistletoe berries, Poinsettia, Kalanchoe, Oleander, Foxglove (most bulbs, really) as well as apricots, raisins, and many more common plants and foods.
And do remember that although some people think it’s funny to see a dog, cat (or other pets) drink alcohol or get high, to your pet any amount of alcohol is extremely dangerous–I certainly applauded when I read that Queen Elizabeth fired staff coachmen for giving her Corgis brandy and other liquors! It’s a mistake to assume that half-emptied glasses are safe and you can empty them later, especially that special Egg Nog your favorite aunt just loves!
This season my girls will be safe–even if a bit disappointed–and that makes me feel much better than that difficult anxious night I spent with Josie!
Blessings to you and yours!
Beth & the Girls