holidays are upon us and, speaking for myself, they seem
to be coming faster and faster with each passing year.
This time of year can present some potential hazards to
our companions, many of which I am sure you are aware. I
thought I’d share my experiences with what has always
been the biggest hazard to our companions: their
am not going to present to you a dizzying list of toxic
substances that lurk around our homes this time of year.
Personally, in my quarter-century-plus of veterinary
medicine, I have not seen a case of toxicity from a
companion drinking Christmas tree water or eating a
is not to say this does not happen but I have found it
far more common for our companions to develop
gastrointestinal disorders from eating holiday
"people food" than from any other possible
exposure they might have to something else. Of course
this can happen any time of year, but with the abundance
of food and the giving spirit associated with the
holidays, there seems to be a higher incidence of
gastroenteritis in our companions around now!
foods most responsible for gastrointestinal problems,
especially in dogs, are the higher-fat items. Meat,
especially pork and beef, are the most common offenders.
Handing Rover that little piece of prime rib, usually a
piece with some extra fat on it, primarily because you
wouldn’t eat that piece yourself, can set off a chain
of events within Rover that might end in a tragedy.
fat foods can overwhelm our companions’ digestive
tracts. The fat can be difficult to break down properly,
leading to maldigestion and bacterial changes in the
bowel and resultant gastroenteritis. In severe cases, a
disease called pancreatitis can result and some of these
cases can be fatal.
gastroenteritis and pancreatitis are most often
treatable but like many conditions we deal with as
veterinarians on a daily basis, they are preventable.
That said, how do we deal with the overwhelming urge to
gift our companions with treats, especially when they
are so adept at pulling our heart strings?
do so by giving them food items that are designed for
their specific digestive systems. This does not include
parts of the Christmas roast or ham or breakfast morning
bacon. I have often times been asked to list
"human" foods that are safe as treats for our
companions. I am reluctant to do so here, but let us
call upon two well know clichés, as they are highly
apropos: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound
of cure" and "Better safe than sorry."
Stick with the right treats!
wish you all, and that means your companions, too, a
safe and Merry Christmas.