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12 Days of...Holiday Hazards!

So...Thanksgiving is past (except for a fridge full of leftovers), and now we're all looking forward, to a variety of holidays...all of which are really really fun but can bring along with them a whole host of health hazards for our furry friends.

 Therefore, starting today, we'll feature the Twelve Days of Holiday Hazards: a 12-day smorgasbord of seasonal safety for our canine and feline family members. Each day we'll discuss a new topic that can help to keep our four-legged friends safe as we enter the season of celebration.

The First Day of Holiday Hazards 

On the first day of the holidays, my true love gave to me...LEFTOVERS. 

Yep, our first hazard of the season is those Thanksgiving leftovers. It's tempting to share the bounty with our animal companions, but we need to do so with some care. Specifically, we need to avoid giving our canine and feline friends:

Bones, which can become lodged in an animal's throat, esophagus, stomach, or intestinal tract. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or even life-theatening gastrointestinal blockage. Bones can damage or even pierce a pet's esophagus or intestines. It's usually okay to give a healthy pet a little taste of plain cooked turkey (check with your own vet to make sure your dog or cat doesn't have any individual health conditions that could be affected), but be sure your pet doesn't recieve any bones, fat, or gristle, all of which could be harmful.

Greasy or spicy foods, which can cause gastrointestinal upset, or even a more serious condition called pancreatitis, in which the pancreas become dangerously inflamed. If your vet says that a little "people food" is OK for your pet, keep it bland. I usually tell my clients, "Don't give your pet anything you wouldn't give to a human toddler", i.e., avoid foods that are fatty, greasy, rich, or spicy.

Grapes or raisins, which can cause kidney failure in our canine companions. On Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law discoverd one of the small children in the family giving grapes to the grateful Labradoodle, Ishmael. Uh-oh! Make sure everyone in the family knows which treats, if any, are OK for the pets, and which could be dangerous, and be sure to get all the kids on board.

Chocolate. We've all got a houseful of delicious desserts, and there will be lots of candy around for the next few weeks; just keep in mind that chocolate is toxic to dogs, and should be kept locked away from curious canines.

Vets always see lots of pets with stomach upset, intestinal blockage, pancreatitis, or other holiday-related conditions around this time of year. Protect your pet (and keep your wallet safe from extra veterinary bills, too!) by sticking with your pet's normal diet for the next few weeks. Giving your pet holiday "treats" may not be doing him or her any favors.

 If you think a pet may have gotten a taste of something toxic, such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, holly berries, or anything else that you worry may be unsafe, you can call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center for help at 888.426.4435. Don't delay.

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