Tuesday, December 14, 2010

From the Pros: Happy and Healthy Holidays

Yellow Lab wearing a Santa hat
Our dogs are part of the family and we want them to have a safe and happy holiday too. Here are some tips from GDB's training staff to keep your pet in good health over the coming season:
  • With the arrival of cold weather some areas may have ice-melting chemicals or salt placed on sidewalks. Whenever possible avoid walking your pet through these substances and wash off his paws when you return home. These chemicals may burn your dog’s pads and make him ill if he licks his paws in an effort to clean them.
  • Beware of pools of anti-freeze (ethylene glycol) leaked from vehicles; dogs are attracted to its sweet taste and ingesting even a very small amount can be deadly. If you suspect your dog has lapped at anti-freeze call a veterinarian immediately.
  • Holiday plants make a home festive but can be a hazard to pets. Poinsettias can cause mouth blisters if the dog chews on them and large amounts could cause gastro-intestinal upset. Holly berries and, more seriously, mistletoe, may cause severe vomiting and diarrhea. Plants should be placed out of reach of puppies and young dogs who may attempt to eat them.
  • The Christmas tree itself may be very attractive to dogs and not just those leg-lifting males who believe that the tree was placed in the living room for their convenience! Tinsel, flocking and ornaments could all cause intestinal obstructions and make a dog very ill. Electric cords on a lighted tree may be tempting for a puppy to chew with disastrous results. Extra care should be taken if chemicals are added to the water to keep the tree fresh as your dog may be tempted by a novel water source. If you have a puppy or young dog around you may even consider putting an x-pen around the Christmas tree!
  • The holidays are a time when there is often a lot of chocolate around – chocolate tree ornaments, gift wrapped boxes and baking chocolate. Even though it may be one of our favorite treats, chocolate can be lethal to dogs. It contains Theobromine and the darker the chocolate the more of that element is present. Just a few ounces can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, even seizures and death. If your dog eats chocolate call a veterinarian for advice immediately.
  • The kitchen and dining room will be full of wonderful odors that may tempt even the most mannerly pet. Aluminum foil and plastic wrap used to contain food may seem like a treat to a greedy dog and can easily cause intestinal damage. Poultry bones are a well known hazard but even bigger bones can make a dog very ill.
  • With many guests and family members coming and going this may be a good time to remind everyone that dogs should not be fed people food; not only does it promote begging but if everyone slips the dog a little bit of something it could add up to one sick puppy!
  • A house full of guests presents that many more opportunities for doors and gates to accidentally be left open. Sometimes no one notices the pet is missing until it is too late. A reminder notice to close the door and gate may save your pet’s life.
  • Many dogs enjoy the excitement and commotion around the holidays but some may find it overwhelming. Having a crate or quiet room for your dog to relax and get away from the hubbub is a good idea. Don’t be surprised if your dog forgets his housebreaking or presents other uncharacteristic behaviors in these busy days. Make the effort to have some quality time with your pet and see that his daily routine isn’t too disrupted. A long walk after Christmas dinner will be good for both of you!

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