Dear YAP,

How can I prevent my pet from getting sick or injured during the holidays?





Well, to begin with, holidays are a time for people to have parties or go to parties.  If it's a big party, leave your dog home!!  No matter how much the hosts love your pooch,  it's dangerous for your pet to be underfoot of party celebrants who cannot always look where they step, besides you don't know how carefully your host made her home 'dog safe.' 
If the party is at your home, tell your guests to NOT feed your pooch.   Remind them that "Dogs have small tummies and when those tummies get too full, it sends out everything very fast, as either vomit or diarrhea!" 

Other suggestions are to keep your dog in a quiet room in your home (away from guests) or in a crate where he will not get stepped on or stressed out, and he will feel secure. 

If you must put the pooch in a bathroom, use a bathroom not accessible by guests and , make sure you close the toilet lid.   Small dog's feet cannot grip
the inside of the toilet bowl  and have been known to drown, head down.  
Do you have a responsible teen neighbor who can baby-sit your dog in his/her home?  Make sure that her home, or at least the area where your dog will be, is safe for your dog.   Check with the parents if its OK if the teen does in-home dog-sitting.   Be sure the dog's favorite toys and treats go with him.   Give the teen a list of doggy no-no's, like NO chocolate or high fat foods.   This will eliminate chances of a sick, injured or barking or howling pooch in your home during your party.
Keep your dog away from lit candles and hot wax.   A wagging tail can knock over a burning candle on a low table.   Beside the house fire risk, there is also the risk of the dog being burned. 
Cover tree light wires, or make them less accessible to your dog.  We covered our outlets with a fake gift box, nicely wrapped and taped in front of the outlet.   The tree skirt hid the wire on the floor.

Most of all, do your best to make sure your dog does not run out side free, in all the holiday excitement.

Which reminds me...the BEST treatment for an upset tummy is "prevention"
Here is a list of food to NOT give a dog during the holidays:
High fat foods
    Turkey skin, chicken skin, animal fat (trimmed off cuts of meat), any gravy, sour cream, pie crusts, cookies, any rich, greasy or creamy soup. High fat foods can cause pancreatitis in dogs. Your dog will require veterinary care for this very painful condition, just like it is in people... This is especially true if your dog is used to a regular low-fat dog food.
    Ice cream: people ice cream is too high in fat for dogs. There are low fat ice creams made for dogs, sold in supermarkets.. 
Holiday foods and Plants:
Almonds and apricot pits, they are related and are toxic to dogs. 
Candy: canes/hard candy sharp pieces can lodge in their throat, causing obstruction, bleeding, choking and death. 

Chocolate: the chemical Theobromine in chocolate is poisonous to all dogs. Theobromine can stay in a dog's bloodstream for as long as 20 hours. Theobromine is also poisonous to cats (especially kittens!) even horses and parrots!  

Macadamia nuts: as few as 5 of these nuts will cause an average size dog to appear to have anxiety, and his hind legs will exhibit paralysis. Smaller dogs can show these effects with fewer macadamia nuts. 

Marshmallows/soft candies, again, can block the throat, cause choking, sticks to their teeth, enhancing tooth decay.  
Raisins, grapes (including foods made with these, like mincemeat, raisin cookies, etc. Causes vomiting, later affecting the kidneys, and can lead to kidney failure. 
Raw Bread dough, any raw dough with yeast in it will ferment in the dog's stomach and cause alcohol poisoning. The smaller the dog, the more susceptible he is to this.
Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots,  the chemical in  these related veggies will accumulate in the dogs liver. Also related to these are the bulb type flowers, like Iris, Tulips, Hyacinths, etc..

Alcohol: beer, liquor of any kind, food enhanced with alcohol. Causes confusion and instability, alcohol poisoning.
Even with a little 'sip' dog begin to loose coordination, control walking and may loose bladder/bowel control or vomit. 
Raw Trout and raw salmon: some of these fish carry parasitic worms and bacteria. Symptoms are vomiting and weakness, swollen glands, and fever. My research said 90% of untreated dogs will die. However, thorough cooking of these fish will kill the bacteria and worms. 
Bones: Chicken, turkey bones are too easily broken. Cooked bones are worse than uncooked bones, because cooking makes them more brittle, and they break into sharp pointed shards that can stick or puncture a dog's throat, or any other place along the digestive tract.
Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can cause low blood sugar ( hypoglycemia) in dogs.

Sudden change in dog food: If you travel, bring dog food from home. And his own dish, as reminders of home mean less stress and less chance of an upset tummy,
Plants: Most dogs will not eat outdoor plants, so here's a few indoor plants that can make your dog sick. If you suspect that your dog ate some of ANY plant, we highly recommend that you call your vet for specific treatment.  Your vet will need the name of the plant, how much you believe the dog ate, how long ago, dog's age & weight, and vital signs, (if you know how to check his pulse and heart rate).

Mistletoe:  causes vomiting, diarrhea, neurological problems and heart failure. Mistletoe's effects in dogs is worse in the very young, the old, and the sick dogs. Can go into shock! Call your vet immediately! 
Holly: causes intense nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Poinsettia: if eaten, can cause drooling, irritation to skin, eyes, mouth and stomach. It is mildly toxic.
Bulb plants: Jonquil, Tulip, Hyacinth tulip, Lily-of-the valley, etc. The chemicals in the bulbs, will affect the dogs liver, and accumulate in his liver.
Cocoa bean mulch: Some folks use this indoors as well as outdoors. The mulch of the cocoa plant contains the same chemical theobromine as in chocolate, and is just as toxic to dogs. Unfortunately, the chocolate scent of the mulch is irresistible to dogs.

( See "Pet Safety" on this website, for lists of additional foods to avoid.)

At home, you dog will be safe if your house is safe for the curious dog. Here is what happened to me:
We learned the hard way to never leave chocolate out and accessible to a dog. Not even well wrapped candy boxes. I once had a pup who sniffed out a gift I received. I did not know what was inside, but a dog has a great sense of smell. The gift tie-on was a wrapped home made chocolate pop. My then 5 month old yorkie pup had gotten out of his penned in area, and wandered the (blocked off) room. He tore open the loosely wrapped chocolate pop from its wrappings. Pooch must have decided if this little package smells and tastes so good, ALL these OTHER BIG GIFTS must have even more!!! Well, he chewed the corner of several boxes, and tipped over the (thankfully) small Christmas tree. We found him shivering in the corner, still smelling of chocolate. Yes, my yorkie needed immediate vet care. He was fine with treatment.
We did other good things: No glass ornaments on the Christmas tree that are within his reach. No food or spice ornaments on the tree!!! All wires were covered, including a large 'wrapped' partial box, taped to the wall to cover access to the outlet, so my pup could not decide to chew (teethe) on the plug.
We kept no candies or nuts within our dog's reach. We put these out where ONLY people can reach them.
We put Hot (Tabasco) sauce on the electric wires, especially the tree light wires, as a deterrent, but we've since learned some dogs love the stuff.
We taught our dog that his crate or pen is his "special place," not a means of punishment. It will become his sanctuary, when he wants or needs to rest.
When we have company, we give the dog his favorite chew treat or toy and water a so they can chew and or snooze, away from excitement, and people feet.
We never lit candles any lower than the highest he could jump. There was always fresh water.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Terry Powell



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