With Christmas just around the corner (can you believe it?) the festive spirit is well and truly in full swing and the social calendar is becoming littered with Christmas parties and family gatherings. Like many people, it is my favorite time of year and I adore spending it with loved ones celebrating all things good in life. Whilst merriness mixed with overindulgence is often synonymous with the holiday period, it is important to remember that there can also be a number of risks for your furry family members that may see you spending Christmas day in the vet clinic instead of around the dining table.
As a vet, when it comes to the festive season one particular ailment springs to mind. So prominent around this period, the industry has even nicknamed it ‘Christmas Disease’. The illness in question is Pancreatitis, a nasty inflammation of the pancreas most commonly affecting dogs with symptoms ranging from mild inappetence accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea to a life-threatening scenario. Most dogs will need to be admitted to hospital for a number of days for blood tests, a drip, antibiotics and pain relief until the symptoms subside. The reason it occurs so frequently around Christmas is that it is often incited by the consumption of an unusually fatty meal… cue the left over ham or turkey skin!
The best way to avoid pancreatitis is to not feed your dog human food and whilst all dogs are at risk, Schnauzers are particularly predisposed so extra vigilance is needed for these guys to avoid a Christmas spent at the vet.
Another common yet often forgotten risk to dogs during Christmas is the raisin laden Christmas pudding! While most dogs will gobble down a piece of pudding with a side of brandy butter given the chance, it has the potential to give them more than just a stomach ache. The raisins in Christmas pudding can cause acute kidney failure in some dogs and while it doesn’t affect every dog, there is no way to tell which ones will be unscathed and who will succumb. Kidney failure is life threatening and something to be avoided at all costs so if your pooch does slip a piece of pudding it is best to get them straight to the vet to bring it all back up!
Food is not the only risk our pets face during the festive season. Christmas lights, tinsel, ribbons and toys can be just as attractive to our canine and feline friends as they are to us. The problem is our fur babies tend to eat things that are attractive to them and unfortunately their intestinal tracts don’t take too kindly to toy cars or long pieces of ribbon. Items such as these can cause blockages, which if not diagnosed and surgically removed quickly, can prove fatal. Not wanting to sound like The Grinch, there is no need to abstain from festive decorations, however I would suggest watching your pets and if there are certain items they have a particular affinity for, it is probably best to remove them!
Christmas should be a time enjoyed by all the family including our four legged members and the easiest way to avoid a festive disaster is to be mindful of what goes in your pet’s mouth! If you do want to include your pet and give them something special, treat them to a bag of K9 Natural or Feline Natural… they will LOVE it. If they are already eating it, well then it’s Christmas everyday isn’t it?!
Written by Dr. Josie Gollan.