I thought l would get some Christmas hints up here so vet staff can have a quiet Christmas and hopefully save some unexpected costs for owners. It applies year round but Christmas is a time of many problems.
This is general advice we give out most nights however If at anytime you are worried always ring your vet. All vets in UK have to have a 24hr cover but some use an emergency service (especially over holidays) to cover for them so always ring your vet with a pen and paper handy and listen to what any message or person tells you to do.
If you are upset then get a friend or partner to do the phone work.
Never just turn up always notify your vet you are on the way down. They may have another place for out of hours emergencies or they may be about to operate and need to hold off for your arrival.
It helps also if you pre find a taxi service that will take you and your pet if you have been drinking you can ring them up instead of panicking at the last moment.
If your pet is on medication make sure you have enough to last the holiday period, especially if you are going away. Often it has to be ordered in by the vet and wholesalers have Christmas closures, so get in and order early.
Do not keep ringing your vet out of hours if your pet was admitted. Christmas is a very busy time for vets. There is usually only a skeleton staff on duty and they will ring you if needed.
Some of the items to be worried about, especially about around Christmas.
Grapes, Sultanas, Raisins
Some dogs can eat grapes or sultanas or raisins with no problem, others can not. The reason is genetic – so just don’t risk it.
Chocolate (the darker the more toxic)
Only use pet chocolates this has theobromine removed.
Christmas trees often have chocolate and sweets hung on them be careful with pets trying to eat them.
Cover the water with live Xmas trees the water can be toxic if drunk.
Other Christmas plants may be toxic. If your pet eats any then ring the vets. They can always contact the poisons centre for clarification.
Do not give any medication (other than that prescribed for that pet with that problem at that point in time) unless you have been advised to as human preparations can be dangerous for animals.
Especially DON’T give cats paracetomol you WILL kill them. Do not give paracetomol to dogs unless the vet has told you can and how much to give.
Minor cuts and wounds wash the wound with a teaspoon of salt in a pint of warm water. Avoid human antiseptic solutions these can be toxic. If you are worried ring your vet. Be careful putting on bandages, often they are too tight and cause damage to the area applied, including loss of limbs.
If your pet has eaten anything it should not always ring your vet to check up if other treatment is needed even if it was vomited up. Not all will have come back up and supportive treatment may be needed.
In UK you can pre buy in some washing soda crystals and keep them some place handy and safe. Inform your vet you have them and ask if you can try those to make the dog vomit.
Only use these on dogs and after speaking to your vet, some items can cause problems when they are vomited back out.
CHRISTMAS & BOXING DAY MEALS
Giving your pet a lovely big meal with the rest of the family meal can bring on the good old diarrhoea and vomiting. It is safer to mix a SMALL AMOUNT of food in with their normal meal if you must. Whacking a huge meal of strange food down is asking for problems.
If your or a friends pet is on a special diet i.e. pancreatitis, renal failure, diabetic etc do not feed anything but the prescription diet. Make sure that any friends and family also understand the importance of this. That little bit that can not hurt, may well result in your pet being admitted and needing treatment.
If your dog is an adult or generally over 8mths and gets diarrhoea, and you are pretty sure it was caused by the food you gave them. Stop all food for 24 hrs but make sure they have water. Slowly wean them onto plain boiled rice or scrambled egg or boiled chicken. (no seasoning just plain boiled) then if no more problems over a couple of days, back to their normal diet.
If it is a puppy or under 8mths then ring your vet.
If they vomited stop all by mouth, once they have stopped vomiting for at least 2 hours give very small amounts of water every so often. Too much will cause vomiting. If vomiting restarts stop fluids and call the vet. Water can irritate and cause vomiting, so if your pet has been vomiting do not think "oh this will wash his mouth out". It wont.
If you are worried, if there is blood, if it is coffee grains colour and or texture, or anything looks strange, if at any point, start, middle or end of the vomiting or diarrhoea episode you are worried, call your vet for advice.
If you have a large breed lab, GSD, setter etc dog (but not always large l have known small breeds to bloat) and it starts to retch but unable to vomit They may also appear to have a rounded tummy. Ring your vet tell them your dog has a possible bloat.
Bloat is FATAL and needs treating immediately.
For all ages of felines with vomiting or diarrhoea ring your vet. Do not withhold food/water from cats. Ring your vet for advice. Cats can not go without food for long because of the way their metabolism works. If your cat has not eaten for 12hrs it must see your vet.
Lights can cause problems bite the sweets on Christmas trees and get cable in the mouth bite into it and bang.
Pets especially cats get tangled up playing with the lights cables and getting a shock.
Baubles may get crushed in the mouth by a pet thinking it is a ball. If a bauble is broken, bits of broken baubles may be pushed into feet.
Tinsel glittering can attract a pet especially a cat. They start licking it and it goes down the throat. Once inside it can get bunched and jammed, or cause a telescopic effect on the intestines.
Dim lights and turn off TV/radio do not try and comfort the pet. They are totally unaware of what is happening and often bite in a reflex action. They may also defecate or urinate again they are unaware they are doing it and have no control over themselves.
Wait till the pet stops it should last no more than about 2 mins. They can be disorientated when they come round and stagger into things this can go on for some time and is not unusual. They are also very clingy.
If it has one fit don’t go rushing to your vet. Unless there has been other illness over the last few days. Ring and discuss it with your vet.
Otherwise keep an eye on the dog and see if and when it has another fit (make a note of how long it lasts) ring your vet and see if you should take them down.
If the dog stops and goes back into a fit, or doesn’t come out of it notify your vet and go down.
Travelling in a car can bring on another fit which is why for the single fit dogs we advise keeping an eye on them and going to your vet after a few hrs. Dogs may fit once and never again.
In the car do not hold your pet put it in the back if it is a hatchback or estate car or back seat of it is a saloon as per earlier warnings.
If a cat has a fit then it should see the vet even if it is just one fit as they do not usually fit. Wait for a bit though to allow the animal to settle down unless it does not come out of the fit or goes straight back into one.
PARTY and FIREWORK STRESS
An earlier blog contains a lot of advice. It applies to new and old pets (all species) with safe areas and locked doors.
And for fireworks this blog has advice.
Especially if your cat is a nervous type or has a history of not urinating they may stop urinating with all the stress of Christmas. This is more obvious if a litter tray is used, they strain a lot but nothing or just a few drops come out. The pet MUST see a vet, non urination can be FATAL.
I am sure l have missed some info off this, it is just a basic guide. If in doubt about your pet speak to the vet.