Happy Fall! Congratulations Fall Photo Contest Winner!
Fall is officially here! From the beautiful evening sunsets, to the changing colors of the foliage and the anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, autumn seems to hold the promise of a less frantic season. Fall is the celebration of a wonderful harvest time and begins the holiday season filled with family, laughter, and fun. Most of us consider our pets part of the family and desire their presence with us in our daily activities, and especially our celebrations. We have a few suggestions to include your pets in your holiday fun, while keeping them healthy and happy as well.
Halloween is a time for children to dress up, collect candy, and have a fun doing it. Pet costumes are readily available and some are downright hilarious! If you decide you want your pet to join the Halloween celebration, be sure to watch for a few things. First, make sure your pet has good visibility. Just as with ourtwo-legged children, safety first! A costume that impedes visibility is risk for an accident. Next, find a costume that fits properly and get your pet accustomed to wearing it before the holiday. Try it on for a few minutes each day—this should eliminate the stress of wearing it. Also, if you have a pet that is fearful of others in costume, please do not include them in your celebration. Even though you may have found the cutest or funniest costume, there is nothing worth risking health and well-being—some dogs just get too stressed to enjoy themselves.
Halloween is a holiday known for candy consumption. Bags of candy are brought home by excited children and eaten. Candy is super-fun when enjoyed in moderation for us, but can be harmful to our pets. Treats that are safe for us to ingest are not always safe for our pets. Chocolate is probably the most widely-known food toxin to pets. Another common food toxicity is Xylitol, which is used in many baking treats, candies, and gums to decrease the calories of those treats. Xylitol, however, is estimated to be 100 times as toxic as chocolate to dogs! Different candies can have varying concentrations of these toxins. (If you suspect your pet has ingested candy, please inspect the candy package for ingredients and call your veterinarian.)
Don’t forget about candy wrappers, which can pose a health risk as well. Dogs and cats have a phenomenal sense of smell and even the wrappers can attract their attention. Ingested wrappers can sometimes pose a risk for intestinal blockage. To keep your pets safe, keep candy and other treats up and away from your pets and be sure to dispose of the wrappers properly. If you want to include your pet in treats, be sure to give them treats that are made especially for them. That keeps us all healthy and happy!
Thanksgiving approaches soon after Halloween. Thanksgiving is a holiday of family and friends gathering together in a delicious celebration of food and thankfulness! One of our busiest times of the year for sick patients is directly after Thanksgiving. Why? Dietary indiscretion is the proper term. I am sure that I have also been the recipient of it after the holidays, too (ugh)! Sometimes Sparky gives us that look when we are eating our dinner—you know the one. Please?! You think, what’s a little piece of turkey skin or ham going to harm, right? Well, a lot actually. Imagine you eat the same bland food every day and suddenly someone hands you burrito for dinner. Yea. It’s probably not going to sit well. Same with dogs.
Most dietary indiscretion begins with (it gets yucky here) vomiting. Some dogs can progress in upset GI tract and develop diarrhea. If it gets severe, the diarrhea can turn bloody. Pets can go from well to critical in a very short time. Dehydration, gastrointestinal bacterial overgrowth, or systemic bacterial infection can all stem from one piece of table food. We will hospitalize many pets with pancreatitis after the holidays. Sorry to get disgusting and graphic here, but please, don’t feed table food to your pets-either eat it or throw it away. Want to give them a treat? Great! Give them a treat that is made for pets. Local business have adorable holiday treats that are safe for your pets. However, remember that treats are an indulgence and should be given sparingly. Disclaimer: If your pet is on a prescription diet or has a food allergy, please do not give your pets treats that are not approved by your veterinarian.
Holiday company of any kind can be stressful for pets. Many pets will do just fine with all the extra attention and busyness of a crown, but others are more sensitive. You can watch your pet for signs of stress by monitoring them and noticing whether they are socializing with the group, or remaining hidden. Notice any shivering or excessive panting? Dogs and cats often exhibit signs of stress that are obvious to their owners, but do occasionally mask their stress. Stress can be mild or severe and can even be manifested in other ways that require medical intervention (i.e. gastrointestinal upset). It may be a good idea to put your pets in a quiet room if you notice any of these outward signs of stress. We also offer boarding here at Walnut Creek Animal Hospital & Pet Resort. Check out our boarding facility with the interactive clinic tour. It may be something you want to consider, if you’re concerned about your pets during your holiday celebrations.
Holidays are busy for all of us and typically require planning for both guests & our pets. Don’t forget to be wary of situations that may cause your pet stress or discomfort. Hopefully, we’ve shared some insights that help to include your pets, without causing them undue stress or illness-so you can enjoy fall & celebrate with your furry family members. Happy fall from all of us at Walnut Creek Animal Hospital!