The holiday season is fast approaching, and year after year I see a similar pattern in emergencies that occur during this time. In Part 1, I will address concerns that are less common than the usual vomiting and diarrhea that accompanies dietary indiscretion.
Festive celebrations usually mean time off work, special meals and treats, and hosting friends and family. Most pets take these changes in stride, but upheavals in routine can affect some pets more than others. Just decorating the house brings in unfamiliar items and temptations, especially for cats. Always think of what may be played with, eaten or damaged. Visitors and social gatherings may cause kitty to hide away. Make sure they don’t get caught in an area of the house away from their litter box. Keep to your schedule for litter cleaning, and stock up on your brands of litter and food so you don’t run out when stores are closed.
Many dogs enjoy exercising in the colder weather, but watch out for the wind chill. This will limit the amount of time they can spend outdoors. Coats and booties when tolerated, will help protect your dog from the freezing temperatures. Try and avoid weekend warrior syndrome, wherein a normally sedate dog gets more activity that it is used to. Pets need to build up their conditioning just like people do, especially when the exercise area is snow covered and slippery. Inside the home, heat sources carry their own risk. Wood or gas stoves and fireplaces are turned on, so previously cool surfaces are now hot enough to burn. Candles and scented oil burners need to be watched and placed where pets can’t get at them.
Some people travel with their pets over the holidays. Bring along all the items you’ll need for the stay, and try to keep everything as consistent as possible, especially food and treats. I generally recommend that you don’t take your cat on your travels unless you cannot avoid it. Cats hate leaving their home environment, so getting a friend to come in to babysit is a better option. Always put down an extra litter box to allow for changes in the cleaning schedule when you are away.
In the next blog, I’ll talk about the more familiar hazards of treats and temptations that the celebrations bring to the table.