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Tips on a safe Holiday for you and your pet

This is generally a very busy time in veterinary emergency rooms across the country. I asked a couple of emergency vets about the most common problems they encounter during the holidays and want to tell you about these problems and what you can do to keep your dog safe.
1. Hit by car - Many people get busy during the holidays and instead of taking their dog for a walk they let them go out without a leash to do their "business". It's also a little colder out and some pet parents don't want to go out themselves. But instead of staying in the yard, their dog darts off. Even the most well-behaved dogs can "make a run for it," especially during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The humans don't think their dog will need a leash but this is a mistake that often leads to very sad situations. Their dog darts off to play with another dog, chases another animal or runs around playing when suddenly a car hits the dog. (Many more drivers are on the roads during the holidays and they are sometimes more distracted than normal.) Please keep your dog on a leash to prevent this kind of tragedy.2. Electrocution - All the extra wires, lights and tree lights around the home lead to wires and extensions cords in different places. That's awfully attractive for a curious dog who likes to nibble on things. Dogs that play with and chew on these wires can become electrocuted. The effects are quite sudden and severe; I saw one puppy last year who barely survived an electrocution, and several more that did not. Keep electrical cords hidden and invest in rugs or special guards to hide wires. 3. Getting into the trash - At many homes dogs can either get into the trash, whine their way into a snack of human food, or steal it off of plates and platters. These foods can make your dog sick and can even be dangerous. At minimum, many human foods will cause vomiting and diarrhea. More extreme problems can include a condition called pancreatitis. Some dogs will eat things that they can't digest, which can require surgery. Last year I saw I dog that ate the plastic wrapper off of a package of chicken. It ended up getting caught in his intestines. He had to have surgery, removing about 12 inches of his bowel. He lived - but just barely. As I recall his hospital bill for this little mishap was over $3,700.
4. Tree related accidents - Many homes have a beautiful holiday tree that is full of potential danger. Some dogs knock over the tree (I've seen soft tissue damage and fractures), biting and chewing glass ornaments (causing lacerations on the paw pad or in the mouth) or even worse - eating presents. Some of the presents under the tree look like toys. They might even smell intriguing to a curious dog. What is inside can be dangerous, but so can the wrapping. Ingestion of the ribbon on the packages can cause a life threatening bowel obstruction.These "problems" are all preventable if you take care and monitor your dog. Be careful around the tree. Keep him on a leash, don't give him any people foods and don't let him get into the trash. Don't give any extra left-over table scraps.

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