Holiday Time Is Here

Holiday time is here, and the fun can end quickly when our furry friends get into trouble, especially with all of the festivities and goings-on.

My sister and her family visit from Massachusetts for Christmas every year and have started a newish (and wonderful) tradition of bringing lobster for dinner straight from the Atlantic on the eve of Christmas Eve. Last year was extra special with all of my siblings, their families and my dad over for this lobster extravaganza and Christmas celebration. My brother-in-law, Dean, is the master of ceremonies, busily cooking and cleaning lobster, while still managing to fascinate the kids with lobster antics and facts. We were almost ready, the clam chowder was warmed, the corn steamed, the butter melted, when my sister Sue showed me an empty prescription bottle that had been chewed apart that had contained 60 to 70 tablets of Rimadyl, a beef flavored non-steroidal anti-inflammatory used for arthritis in dogs.

[singlepic id=398 w=320 h=240 float=left]I had taken the Rimadyl to my dad’s house earlier in the day to help out Audrey, his 14 year old Pointer, and later brought it home and didn’t put it away. That beefy goodness was far too tempting to one, or both, of our dogs. Unfortunately I didn’t know who had eaten what, if they had shared, or if one dog had eaten the whole thing. Quickly doing a little math I realized that my Whippet Hound, Axel, could have eaten enough Rimadyl to cause severe ulceration of his G.I. tract, enough to cause his kidneys to fail, or something much worse. My other dog Star is bigger and younger, but was at risk for an extremely irritated gastrointestinal tract or even kidney failure if she had eaten a toxic dose.

My family has always been very good about finding solutions to our problems. My sisters, Sue and Joan, held down the fort, finished making dinner and fed the kids, while my brother Jerry drove me and the dogs to work. Crystal left her family celebration to help us out gathering blood, placing catheters, and starting treatment. To condense the story there was a lot of vomit, activated charcoal everywhere (used to absorb whatever drug was left, and believe me the name doesn’t describe the product – it should be called activated thick, black yucky stuff that gets all over everything and everyone), and two very unhappy dogs hooked up to intravenous fluids for four days that had never spent the night in a cage  before. Don’t worry, there is a happy ending to this story. My brother and I got home in time to eat lobster dinner with the rest of the family, and a  year later both dogs are fine.

With that in mind, be careful of what dangers to your pets there may be lurking about this time of year. Things around the holidays to watch out for include:

  • Chocolate – the darker it is the more dangerous. Don’t even think about leaving a one pound box of Godiva Chocolates just inside a friend’s door as a surprise! (Believe me, it has happened)
  • Mistletoe – the berries are very toxic, although most mistletoe purchased today is synthetic which doesn’t cause a problem.
  • Holly – the berries and leaves can cause vomiting, diarrhea and excess salivation. Fortunately the pointy leaves deter most pets from this dangerous snack.
  • Poinsettias – can cause some gastrointestinal irritation, but not nearly as toxic as people think.
  • Tinsel – extremely problematic in cats. Kitties want to eat tinsel (it is so shiny!) It can cause serious problems as a foreign body requiring surgery.
  • Ribbons – see tinsel above, but much more likely to land a kitty in the E.R.
  • Batteries – especially those easy-to-eat button batteries, which cause ulceration and can get stuck, requiring surgery.
  • Rock salt, although not especially toxic, can cause irritation to paws. It can even cause irritation to mouths and stomachs if it is eaten. Treatment is simple – rinsing salt off of paws will prevent any contact irritation and water, a little food and even some milk can relieve any symptoms if salt is ingested.

Hopefully everyone will have a safe and happy holiday!