Sunday, November 20, 2011

Avoid Turkey Day Troubles

So Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. It's hard for me to say why exactly, but I suspect that it has to do with the quality and quantity of food, friends, family and football. There is nothing I like better than a day at home, yummy smells in the air, a guilt free 12 noon glass of wine, football on the tv, dogs relaxing at my feet, a post dinner nap. What could be better?

And then there is the dreaded day such warm feelings for this day. By now, we all are familiar with the term "Black Friday" to describe the day after Thanksgiving. Stores opening at 12am on the Friday after Thanksgiving, people lined up for hours beforehand. I saw this guy on the news this week, that actually pitched his tent a week early in front of a Best Buy!!! Really???

But it's not only early bird holiday shoppers that think of the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday. Often, veterinarians think the same thing. This is the day when multitudes of pets that have gotten into the wrong stuff on Turkey Day are presented to the vet for a cure of their holiday hangovers. How do you make sure you aren't one of those who spend their time and money in the vet's office instead of reaping the benefits of holiday sales? Check out these tips below:

1) First and foremost - Leave the people food for the people. Yes, it's tempting on this special day of thanking and feasting to be tempted to reward the pet in your life by adding some tasty tidbits to his food bowl. However, people food can spell disaster for dogs. A nasty bout of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis can put an end to your holiday fun pretty quickly. Dogs experience very painful abdomens and scary bloody diarrhea. Vomiting may also occur. Also, pancreatitis is a very common ailment associated with pets that eat the wrong thing. Dogs can become very sick from the "inflammation of the pancreas". Symptoms include, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and lethargy. Treatment for both is largely supportive only often requiring administration of IV fluids, special diets and hospital stays. This can become quite expensive at a time of year when the last thing you want to spend money on is your sick pet.

Even if your dog does not develop pancreatitis, eating food that your dog is not used to often times ends up in bouts of vomiting and diarrhea at the least. Who wants to spend their precious holiday time off cleaning up those messes? Not to mention that your pet will feel lousy too. Still feel bad? Consider a special treat such as a canned version of his regular kibble. Or add a little pumpkin puree to his regular food (not pumpkin pie filling, but real canned pumpkin).

2) Keep the trash picked up and secured in a safe place. With all the extra folks and garbage generated from a holiday feast, sometimes it's easy to have garbage overflow. There is nothing that a dog likes better than to go through the holiday leftovers from the garbage. Besides the fact that they may get sick from the food they eat, there is also the possibility of them getting into turkey bones. Turkey bones are a big no-no for dogs. As they travel through the digestive process they can splinter and break causing tears all the way from the esophagus to the rectum. Cooked turkey bones are even worse as the cooking process has relieved them of any moisture causing them to become even more brittle. This spells big trouble for your dogs intestines. Tears or perforations of the intestines can be a life-threatening situation. Also, obstructions and blockages can result from ingesting bones requiring your dog to have surgery. To avoid these horrible situations, ensure your garbage is secured away from your dogs sensitive snout and hungry belly.

3) Boarding Blues - many of us travel at Thanksgiving and board our dogs while we are gone. Although most reputable boarding facilities require their boarders to be up to date on vaccines, it's still a wonderful place for your pet to pick up an illness or disease. Even fleas can be a problem in the cleanest boarding facility. To make sure your dog stays safe while you are gone, thoroughly check out the boarding facility where you plan to leave your pup. Make your reservations early so that you aren't scrambling around at the last minute trying to find a place to leave your dog. Make an appointment at your veterinarian two weeks prior to leaving and get your pup up to date on his vaccinations and give him a full health check. Apply a topical flea product, such as Frontline on your dog prior to dropping him off to make sure he is protected from fleas. Or consider alternative solutions. Bring someone into your home to stay with your pet, or make arrangements to take your pet with you. Your doggy will love a good vacation!!

4) Pet ID - if you do travel with your pet, it's also wise to be sure he is up to date on his vaccinations and is healthy to travel. Also, be sure you bring the proper gear to make sure your pet stays safe. A collar, leash and/or harness are a must to guarantee you and your pet won't get separated in a strange place. Also, if you are driving, collapsible crates, a comfy dog bed or blanket and some favorite toys can make a strange place feel just like home. Last, please, please, please microchip your pet and make sure his/her collar has ID tags with current information on them. If your pet does become lost, this is the best way to ensure you will be reunited. Finally, think about hanging around the house for the first 24 hours after your arrival. Let your pup get used to his/her new surroundings before you take off. Take him for a long walk, introduce him to people he'll be spending time with. Also, find out where the best vet is in town in case there is an emergency.

Following these tips will hopefully allow you and your pet to have a stress free holiday. Stay safe and have a great holiday.

During this time of year, we are reminded again of all the HOTLR supporters and donors without whom this organization would not exist. All of us at HOTLR thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your donations, support and volunteer hours. 2011 has been one of our most successful years. Thank you for allowing us to save as many of these wonderful dogs as we can. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at HOTLR!!!

For more information on Turkey Day safety for your pets, check out these links:

ASPCA Thanksgiving Safety Tips
Petfinder Thanksgiving Pet Care Tips
Guardian Pet Sitters Thanksgiving Pet Care Tips

Need a new friend this holiday season? How about adopting or fostering one of our adorable Labs? Check out who needs a home here: HOTLR Labs Available for Adoption.

Looking for a way to pump up your holiday spirit? Sign up for Gift Wrapping with HOTLR at a participating Barnes & Noble. Dogs, kids,'s the perfect way to get into the holiday swing of things!!! For more info and to sign up, click here: HOTLR Upcoming Events

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