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Take precautions to keep your pet safe

Simple measures can help your pet avoid holiday discomfort

By: By Lucy Haines

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013 06:00 am

HEALTHY HOUND – Dr. Kristina Hughes, of the Tudor Glen Veterinary Clinic, performs a checkup on Tryst. Some simple precautions can help keep pets safe during the busy holiday season.
HEALTHY HOUND – Dr. Kristina Hughes, of the Tudor Glen Veterinary Clinic, performs a checkup on Tryst. Some simple precautions can help keep pets safe during the busy holiday season.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

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Imagine what the holidays must look like from your pet’s point of view – strange people in the house, travel to other unfamiliar homes, unusual foods and shiny, tempting Christmas decorations – it’s a minefield that can spell trouble for many a family pet.

Veterinarians say the holidays are a busy time at clinics, with pets routinely coming in with gastro-intestinal issues (stomach problems) likely due to eating things from under the Christmas tree or fatty scraps from the Christmas dinner table.

“We see dogs in great discomfort after ripping apart and eating gifts that have chocolate, coffee and nuts, or after gorging on turkey dinner. If pets aren’t used to eating the fat in people food, then that meal can cause trouble. Also, certain nuts, like macadamia, are toxic to dogs,” said Dr. Kristina Hughes, a vet at Tudor Glen Veterinary Hospital.

“I once saw a dog that was full of walnuts – top to bottom – and the poor guy was not comfortable. “

Hughes said a key message to pet owners is to not leave a pet at home unsupervised and, if unsure of what’s in the gifts under the tree, raise them up out of a pet’s reach.

Hughes points to other problem spots like a tree’s water reservoir, which often has toxic preservative in it. Look out for poinsettia plants and tinsel on the tree too, which are attractive but harmful to cats. Even electrical cords can spell trouble for a pet rabbit if it’s allowed to roam outside the cage.

Because of all the added activity around holiday time, Hughes advises pet owners – especially those with anxious, sick or older dogs – to stick to the daily routine as much as possible. It’s important – even while away – to exercise them every day.

“A tired pet gets into less mischief,” she said.

Vets also see pets with frostbite through the season, especially on ear tips and foot pads. If the pet doesn’t have a warm outdoor place to go to, then don’t leave it outside, experts say.

“Foot pads can get infected from frostbite, and even the salt on driveways causes irritation. Just keep it brief for the pets during this cold weather,” Hughes said.

Using a pet boarding kennel can answer many holiday concerns – whether for day use while hosting a holiday party, or longer term while a family is away on Christmas vacation.

Like many pet kennels in the region, Ranch Kennels, just three miles northwest of St. Albert, is booked up for the holidays by pet owners who want to keep their critters away from Christmas chaos.

Brent Jenkins, co-owner of Ranch Kennels, said kennels give people freedom and dogs needed stimulation and socialization during the holiday rush.

“People feel better if they’re not imposing on others with their pets, or by leaving them alone in a hotel room. And the kennel can be like a vacation or second home for the dog or cat,” he said.

At a kennel, pets are on regular feed and medicine schedules and get regular walks. At Ranch Kennels, pets can even get an optional sport pack, which includes doggie tennis.

Fees here start at $23 a day for a small dog, with discounts available for multiple pets or longer stays.

“Plan ahead – do a familiarization trip or two with the pet and ask your vet for kennels they recommend,” said Jenkins. “Our top priority is the pet’s comfort.”


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