Holidays should be filled with the joy of gatherings and special treats for friends and family and pet-friendly treats for companion animals. Often dogs wait beneath tabletops in hopes that food scraps will fall upon them, sometimes with disastrous results. Special precautions need to be taken prior to enjoying the holiday festivities.
Let’s begin with a story that is based on situations that often happen but with simple planning could be totally avoided.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow and friends and relatives are arriving for an extended holiday weekend. There is a brisk chill in the air and the oven is working overtime and the rich aroma of delicious pies and chocolate desserts are floating through the air. Your favorite Aunt Jody has arrived, making her notorious entrance as she swings the door open and yells, “Hello everyone, the party is here.” She is quite oblivious to the fact that you have a 65-pound Rottweiler mix named Caleb, and that her theatrical entrance is an opportunity for Caleb to make his great escape.
As your curious Caleb darts out the door, you yell for him to come back and then follow in his tracks. Caleb doesn’t have identification tags and is running down the street without a care in the world and with no identity. After chasing Caleb for what seems like miles, he thankfully comes to a screeching halt due to complete exhaustion. After catching him, you vow to put identification tags on him the very next day.
You return to the house and realize how quickly the house filled with exuberant relatives. Dinner is finally served with enough food to feed an army. The dining room table has never been so packed, and Caleb is contentedly lying under it while Aunt Jody slips him tidbits of “this and that” at an alarming rate. After an hour of endless food and engaging conversation, desserts are served including mouth-watering chocolate mousse pie with an ample side of whipped cream. Aunt Jody must have missed the “memo” about chocolate being harmful to dogs and she once again secretly feeds Caleb chocolate mousse pie under the table.
The night is winding down and guests are getting ready for bed. You give hugs to those leaving and head upstairs for the night. You fall asleep immediately, exhausted from the last few days cleaning the house and preparing for guests. Nothing could wake you … except something like Caleb violently vomiting in the middle of the night. Caleb has not just gotten sick in one spot and there is evidence that he has been sick for hours and he appears to be struggling to breathe. You quickly grab your car keys and head off to a 24-hour emergency veterinarian clinic.
While waiting for the doctor to return with Caleb’s prognosis you worry about him and what could possibly be wrong? The vet returns and announces that Caleb is extremely sick due to the massive amount of what appears to be Thanksgiving dinner including a chocolate substance that he ingested in the previous hours. After emergency surgery, stomach pumping and a very large vet bill, you finally return home with a sad pooch in hand. Caleb did well during surgery and recovery at the hospital, but you think to yourself, “This could have all been avoided.”
Now that I have shared my “canine awareness” holiday story with you, we can highlight the aspects that went wrong throughout the night and how they could have been prevented.
The first issue was Caleb’s “great escape” out the front door. If you know you’re going to have guests coming in and out of the door, remember to put your dogs and cat into an enclosed room until the door remains shut or the guests leave altogether.
Secondly, overly “affectionate” relatives such as Aunt Jody who love to spoil your pets with tidbits need to be educated on the harmful effects that human foods can have on companion animals. Allowing guests to feed your pet table scraps could have harmful effects. Make sure to either put your pooch away into his favorite spot during dinner time with a stimulating dog toy such as dog treat filled Kong, or ensure that he isn’t lurking below the table.
Lastly, make sure you tie up the trash and place it in a location where your dog won’t have access to it. Dogs and cats will surprise you with the amazing feats they will endure for access to a tidbit filled trash can.
I hope Caleb’s story, along with general tips for pet safety during the holiday season were helpful. Remember to double check that your pets have identification tags on them, and of course have a good time and enjoy the holiday season.
Don’t forget about HSCAZ’s Adopt-a-Cat month! Come on in to the shelter and select a special price for a wonderful kitty. If you have questions, please feel free to contact HSCAZ at firstname.lastname@example.org. The shelter is located at 812 S. McLane Road; hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily (excluding holidays). For more information about our adoptable animals, go to www.humanesocietycentralaz.org or call (928) 474-5590.
Roxy is a 9-month-old female American pit bull terrier mix. Her family had to give her up because they couldn’t afford her any longer. She is sweet as can be and is a real wiggle butt.
Skids is a 2-year-old male hound mix. He is a gentle, affectionate animal and is one of my favorites.
Boogie is a 9-month-old male lab mix. He is an active young chap and an awesome animal.
Digz is Boogie’s brother, also a 9-month-old male lab mix. He is a great, friendly dog.
Echo is a 9-month-old female lab mix. She is a lovely lady who loves to give hugs.
Otis is a 4-year-old male terrier who is a wiggly little man.