Any time the seasons change, there are new things that pet owners should keep in mind to keep their pet healthy and safe. This holiday season, veterinarians tend to see a few different things more commonly, including dogs getting into the garbage or eating bread dough, dogs and cats eating foreign material that gets stuck in their intestines, toxicities, and others. I want to discuss these things so you know how to keep your furry family member safe this holiday season!
Leftovers, The Garbage
Gastroenteritis: Many dogs like to eat just about anything, including baking ingredients, leftovers, or whatever smells good in the garbage. When dogs eat things they aren’t supposed to, this can upset their stomach and intestines which can lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Gastroenteritis generally resolves uneventfully if adequate supportive care is given, but nobody wants a vomiting dog for the holidays.
Pancreatitis: When dogs eat a high fat meal (turkey fat/grease, butter, etc), they are at an increased risk for developing pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the organ that produces digestive enzymes and insulin. When the pancreas is inflamed, it can cause the dog to have a decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. This sounds very similar to gastroenteritis, but the treatment is more aggressive, so pay extra attention this holiday season that the garbage is off limits and relatives know not to feed your dog their leftovers!
Bread dough: An important step in baking bread is letting it sit out to rise. Your dog may see this as a perfect opportunity to have a snack. This can be very problematic since the dough will continue to expand in your dog’s stomach. Have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian right away if you know or suspect that he or she has eaten any amount of bread dough.
Raisins/Grapes: Some people like to use raisins as an ingredient in the bread or dessert they make. Keep these away from your dogs! Grapes and raisins can be toxic to the kidneys. While 50% of dogs do not get sick from ingesting grapes/raisins, the other 50% can develop kidney failure from even ONE grape or raisin. Since we can’t tell which group a dog falls into, we recommend treating every case as though the dog is susceptible. Better to prevent ingestion than have to treat!
Intestinal foreign bodies: As I said before, dogs like to eat just about anything, including non-food items like ornaments, garland, and toys. Foreign material can cause a blockage in the intestines if it is large enough, and may require surgery to remove. Don’t forget about cats and tinsel/string! This can get caught in the intestines and cause them to bunch up like a telephone cord.
Poinsettias: This common decorative holiday plant can cause mild GI upset in dogs and cats that ingest it. It generally causes nausea, vomiting, and occasionally diarrhea, but these signs tend to be self-limiting and generally don’t require medical treatment.