Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe This Halloween

The Halloween holiday can be a scary and dangerous time for your pet. By following some simple rules and advice you can keep your pet safe and comfortable without infringing on the family fun this halloween:

1. Don't put costumes on your pets unless they are used to it. Wearing clothing can make pets uncomfortable. Be especially careful in warmer climates as tight fitting costumes will cause heat exhaustion very quickly.

2. Candy and especially candy wrappers should not be left lying around the house. These small objects can cause life threatening blockages in the intestines if eaten by your pet.

3. Chocolate is toxic to animals. It can make them very sick and can be life threatening. Make sure that the "after Halloween" candy is stored safely so your pet can't get to it, especially the chocolate. I personally see a good few animals at this time of year at my emergency clinic because of chocolate poisoning. Why not give them a pet treat instead?

4. If you think your pet has eaten some Halloween chocolate contact your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Dark chocolate, especially, can be life threatening. If you can't reach your veterinarian you can call the ASPCA's Poison Control Center 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at (888) 426- 4435. (A $50 consultation fee may apply)

5. Avoid taking your pet out when you go out to "Trick or Treat". Loud noises and strange costumes may frighten your pet into the road and cause accidents.

6. It's best to put your pet in a separate room away from the door, so he/she won't be bothered by the presence of strange people and noises.

7. Remember to make sure your pet is wearing his/her pet tag or that the identification microchip is present. That way, if the door is repeatedly opened to allow guests in and out and your pet escapes, there is more chance you will get them back sooner if lost..

Dr David Brooks

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Avoiding Thanksgiving Holiday Hazards for Your Pet

Thanksgiving is this week, and the rest of the holiday season is fast approaching. It's a busy time for all of us, but it is very important to make sure that your pet is kept safe from any danger.

At this time every year it is important to remind pet owners of the most common holiday hazards for pets. These include feeding problems, foreign-body ingestion and accidental poisoning. Unfortunately many pets will have to see the veterinarian this holiday season because this advice was not taken into consideration. Dont let your pet be one of them, follow these points and ensure your pet is safe over the entire holiday season.

Feeding problems: Foods too fatty, too rich or too spicy (in fact anything your pet is not accustomed to) can lead to intestinal problems. In some animals, the treat can cause serious inflammation of the pancreas or intestine which can actually be life-threatening. The main foods to avoid are those bits that you wouldn't eat yourself such as the fat off a piece of meat, that last little bit of desert and so on. A little bit of meat wont cause too much of a problem though, just make sure you stay away from the fatty parts and the poultry skin (this contains high quantities of fat). It is these fats especially that can trigger acute pancreatitis.

Foreign-body ingestion. Cooked poultry bones are a tempting thing to give to your pet, but please avoid them. Even the largest of bones can splinter easily and these sharp shards work their way into your pets intestines. If one pierces through the intestinal wall a life threatening peritonitis will ensue. Although cooked poultry bones are prohibited, some raw beef bones can be safely given to your pet. Knuckle bones (for large dogs) and oxtails (for small dogs) are generally considered to be a lot safer as they do not break up as easily. However, it is good practice to supervise your dog whilst chewing the bone so you can throw it away if it gets broken into pieces that can be swallowed.

Decoration Dangers: The Christmas tree can be a hazard for dogs and cats. Tinsel is great to play with but if ingested can cause pleating of the intestines and a severe blockage. This is in particular a great danger to cats and kittens, who love chasing and playing with string and cotton. Ornaments are also dangerous because they too may break into sharp shards that may puncture the intestines. Also, the water at the base of the Christmas tree will contain substances that can cause painful stomach aches. Christmas tree light strings are at risk of being chewed so please turn them off when you are out or your pet is left near the tree unsupervised.

Poisonings: Holiday plants such as mistletoe are toxic, as are the bulbs of the amaryllis plant. A good alternative is the poinsettia which can be safely welcomed into the pet lover's home. Please be aware that chocolate is toxic to dogs (especially the dark variety). Please dispose of antifreeze in the right way too during the cold months ahead. This sweet substance tastes great to your pet but is deadly.

Dr David Brooks

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