When it comes to pet health there are two concerns during the month of October, Thanksgiving and Halloween. Each holiday comes with its own set of dangers for our furry companions.
Thanksgiving’s Achilles heel is the turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Not only do people tend to over indulge in all the food, given the chance our pets will too. Ingestion of a fatty meal can cause inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis. Not only does the pancreas produce insulin, it is also responsible for digestive enzymes that become activated in the small intestine to help digest food. When the pancreas becomes inflamed the digestive enzymes are activated prematurely causing digestion of the pancreas which is extremely painful. Clinical signs may not show up for a few days such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea
and sore abdomen. To confirm a diagnosis of pancreatitis, tests such as blood work and abdominal imaging are needed. Pancreatitis can cause severe illness and even death if not treated. If you manage to make it through turkey dinner without any hitches your pets are not in the clear just yet. Leftover food can make the garbage an appealing buffet for pets if left unattended or not securely put away. The turkey carcass can be even more dangerous to your pet as bones can splinter or get lodged in the gastrointestinal track. If you are travelling over the Thanksgiving holiday, remember to pack any necessary medications for your pet and be sure to have proper identification on their collar should they become separated from you.
Halloween already has a bad reputation because of the amount of accessible chocolate, causing toxicology calls to increase by 12% making it the busiest time of year for the Pet Poison call center. Chocolate even in small amounts can lead to seizures and death. The darker the chocolate the greater the danger to the pet as they cannot metabolize it they way humans can. A common artificial sweetener called Xylitol can
lead to liver failure in dogs if ingested (Xylitol can be found in most chewing gums). The packaging can be just as harmful to your pet as its contents. Foil and cellophane wrappers can cause bowel obstructions.
Dressing up in costumes is not just for the kids either, it is becoming more common to see pets dressed up in Halloween attire as well. When it comes to costumes keep it simple and never leave your pet unattended while dressed up as costumes can shift, impairing vision, movement or even breathing. Festive bandanas (attached with Velcro) work great for keeping your pet festive and comfortable. Not only is Halloween a busy time of year for toxicologists but it is also the second most common holiday for pets to become lost. With lots of people coming and going (as well as spooky noises!) pet anxiety can rise and cause them to try and get away from all the commotion which sometimes means they bolt out the door unexpectedly when opened for a guest. Having pets on a leash or confined to a safe area of the house can help make Halloween stress free for both you and your pets.