As the end-of-year holiday season quickly approaches, your stress level may be rising. Thanksgiving turkeys to roast, Christmas gifts to buy and wrap, and Christmas and New Year’s Eve decorations to hang can be overwhelming for even the most organized. A sick or injured pet in the middle of the fray is one more anxiety-ridden experience, but don’t worry—we’ve got your back. If your family veterinarian isn’t open during holiday hours, or refers your sick pet to us for holiday hospitalization, we’re well-equipped to handle any seasonal hazard your pet may stick her nose into.
Staffed around the clock with a highly skilled team of emergency care veterinary professionals, we’ve seen it all during the festive season. Watch for these problems, which will require prompt medical attention for your four-legged friend:
- Vomiting or diarrhea — Two of the most common issues seen over the holidays, vomiting and diarrhea can be caused by a number of mishaps. Chocolate toxicity, alcohol poisoning, fatty foods, human prescription ingestion, and any dietary indiscretion can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Curious puppies and kittens may also run afoul of inedible objects, such as candy wrappers, tinsel, and other decorations. Block off tempting decorative displays, which are easily gnawed on. Also, ensure treats meant for human guests are kept well out of paws’ reach, and share only pet-friendly snacks with your four-legged friends.
- Breathing difficulties — While we are afflicted with seasonal colds and suffer from coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath, our pets rarely share our fate. However, dogs can succumb to kennel cough or canine influenza during the holiday boarding season, especially if there is an outbreak of upper respiratory disease, so if you’re planning on boarding your pet over the holidays, ensure she’s vaccinated in advance to allow time for proper immunity.
In addition to upper respiratory diseases, pets can get into holiday toxins that can cause breathing difficulties. Mistletoe and holly ingestion can cause your pet to struggle to breathe, as can liquid potpourri, which cats are fond of investigating. Alcohol or chocolate toxicity can also cause your pet to pant or breathe rapidly.
- Sudden lethargy — In the chaos of visiting family and friends, suitcases and personal items often are left unattended or forgotten, allowing inquisitive pets to get into trouble. Snooping through family suitcases may unearth prescription medication, which can be deadly if your pet scarfs down too many pills. Depending on the medication, your pet may suddenly become lethargic, disoriented, vomit, or have diarrhea. Alcohol consumption can also cause sudden lethargy, so keep an eye out for unattended cocktails.
- More frequent drinking or urinating — Pet accidents inside the home can be embarrassing when you have a house full of guests, but they are rarely under your pet’s control. Many holiday toxins can cause kidney or liver failure, which leads to excessive thirst and urination, forming those puddles primed for guests’ feet. Keep grapes, raisins, xylitol, and antifreeze locked up tight when your furry friend is around, because ingesting any of these items can shut down kidney function, with potentially deadly consequences.
- Seizures — Witnessing your beloved pet undergoing a seizure is terrifying, especially if she’s not prone to epileptic episodes and it comes out of the blue. While the commotion and chaos of a holiday get-together can trigger some sensitive pets’ seizure activity, first-time seizures are often caused by toxin exposure. Alcohol, chocolate, medications, and xylitol can cause seizure activity in pets.
- Abdominal pain — Often tied in with vomiting and diarrhea, pets with abdominal pain are experiencing some form of gastrointestinal upset. The most common cause of abdominal pain correlating with the holiday season comes from overindulgence of fatty foods. When the pancreas becomes inflamed from the excess fat in your pet’s diet—think turkey skin, buttery mashed potatoes, gravy, and ham—severe abdominal pain can result. Pancreatitis can be a life-threatening condition that requires prompt treatment.
Foreign-object ingestion is another emergency situation. Tinsel strands, glass ornament shards, decorations, or turkey bones can prove too tempting for curious pets, leading to a painful gastrointestinal obstruction that requires emergency surgery.
While the holidays are full of joy and good cheer, they’re also fraught with additional hazards for your furry friend. Visitors, foods, drinks, and seasonal decorations can pose serious threats to your pet. If your pet indulges in too many holiday festivities and runs into trouble, give us a call. We’re available 24/7 throughout the holiday season.