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This week we have a special Festive Season-themed article written for the Lochaber Times by Mairi Thom, veterinary surgeon with Crown Vets in Fort William, on how to ‘pet proof’ your celebrations and make sure you don’t end up spending time with your furry companion in the surgery!
Picture the scene – it’s a snowy morning during the Christmas holidays with Milly and Molly the Labradors toasting themselves by the log fire, while feline friends Dougal and Donnie are curled up together in the armchair.
Snap back to reality – you’ve just come in from a rainy morning dog walk. You are drying the kitchen floor where the Labs have shaken water when you realise Milly, the black one, has reached up with her
long legs and stretched over the counter to snatch the Christmas cake from the back.
Realising what is happening you dash over to prevent her from ingesting 2kg of toxic raisins. Then you hear shrieking coming from next door.
Your daughter has spotted Dougal has a piece of tinsel hanging from his mouth and seems to struggling to swallow the rest of it.
Meanwhile Donnie is hiding behind the sofa where he has been in refuge ever since the Christmas tree went up and Molly has discovered the fancy 90 per cent cocoa chocolate bar you were given as a present and was saving until later for watching the Snowman on TV.
You should have pet-proofed Christmas!
Raisin/currant/sultana toxicity is poorly understood but in some dogs even a small amount can cause acute kidney failure which can be irreversible if not caught early.
Treatment is by causing the dog to vomit within a specific time frame otherwise a period of time on IV fluids is usually necessary. Keeping
mince pies and Christmas cake high up and well enough away from long-legged dogs is far better than a trip to the vet.
That is what one of our clients discovered when she thought she had left the 2.5kg of dried fruit ready to make Christmas cake far enough back on the counter. I suppose when two Labrador sisters are involved in a crime together they end up having to go to the vets together!
Many people have heard about chocolate toxicity in dogs. It can cause a range of signs from non-life threatening vomiting and diarrhoea to cardiac rhythm problems and seizures.
Dark chocolate is far more dangerous than milk chocolate. If your dog does ingest chocolate it is very helpful to know the type of chocolate, how many grams and the weight of your dog.
Your vet can use this information to work out the risk and whether he/she needs to be seen as an emergency.
Cats are generally fussy eaters, less likely to eat foreign articles than your typical Labrador. However, they often show interest in Christmas trees and the tinsel and ribbons on them!
Sometimes it gets caught under the tongue while the other end causes the bowel to concertina up. It is very dangerous to try to pull anything out and of course you may not see the foreign body at all.
It is always best to phone your vet if your cat is vomiting more frequently than normal.
Despite Yueltide merriment some people can find this time of year stressful. This is true for many cats and their feelings may not be obvious to their owners.
Cats do not like a lot of change in their environment so when a large tree appears in their living space, wrapping paper, boxes and sellotape come out, when family and friends come to visit and new kittens appear, this can be very worrying to your cat.
Stress often displays itself as inappropriate urination – this can be behavioural or even a medical problem causing severe inflammation in the bladder.
This is especially dangerous in male cats who can sometimes block their urethra and be unable to urinate. This is an emergency, so if you see your male cat straining to urinate with nothing passing or yowling in discomfort phone the vet immediately.
Ways to help your cat destress involve giving them somewhere to hide, preferably high up where they can observe but choose not to be part of what is going on.
Anti anxiety supplements are also available at the vets along with Feliway plugin diffusers which contain a pheromone known to be helpful in reducing stress.
There are many other dangers to watch out for at Christmas but hopefully you will find ways to pet proof this year so that you don’t have to make any unwanted trips to the vet during your turkey dinner.
If you do need advice, it is always best to phone as there is always emergency cover available.