DOs And DON'Ts For The Holidays

DOs and DON’Ts For The Holidays

Here are some quick pet tips to keep in mind during busy holiday seasons:

DON’T forget to plan ahead.

With all the travel arrangements, gift ideas, and menu planning, don’t forget to schedule boarding, grooming, or pet sitting as early as possible.  Many boarding facilities become filled to capacity during the holidays and take appointments on a first-come first serve basis.  Securing a spot early could make the difference between a relaxing vacation and a road trip with four cats in tow.  Also don’t forget to keep your pets updated on their vaccines, usually a requirement for boarding or grooming.  Your veterinarian can provide you with any needed documentation for the facility.

DO give your pet a gift.

Pamper your pet with a fresh toy or two (giftwrap is optional)!  Play is an important way for dogs to exercise.  Burning off stored up energy through exercise can improve a dog’s behavior (it’s easier to stay calm and focus on commands when not bouncing off the walls) as well as physical health.  Similarly, cats show multiple benefits from stimulation through play.  Activity can prevent obesity, a common health problem in cats, as well as decrease stress, found to be a risk factor for Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD).

DON’T be too quick to give a pet as a gift.

It may seem like it goes without saying, but owning a pet is a big responsibility.  Keeping up with a dog, car, or other animal’s nutritional needs is required for pet ownership.  Gifting a pet to someone is also gifting them a sizeable time and financial commitment, so don’t do it without asking enough questions to know the person is up for the task.  Although a child may fully intend to be the primary caretaker for a new pet, parents are frequently the ones who end up doing most of the work.

DON’T let pets near holiday hazards.

The dog or cat that ate tinsel was once a staple of veterinary practice during the holidays.  While that particular item has decreased in popularity, we still see decorations getting swallowed from time to time.  Avoid long, string-like decorations, especially with cats, as they are prone to causing problems if ingested.  And watch dogs closely around ornaments, many of which could be confused with their own toys.

Keep the holiday menu items to the humans at the party.  While a piece of dinner roll is unlikely to cause an issue, a deep fried turkey wing might.  Anything outside a pet’s normal diet, especially rich food with high fat content, has the potential to cause mild GI upset or even more serious issues such as pancreatitis.

DO take time to appreciate your pets.

The holidays are an opportunity to take a moment and be thankful for friends and family.  This includes your furry (or feathered or scaly) friends and family as well.  Research has shown that companion animals may play a role in improving a wide range of mental and physical health issues from high blood pressure to anxiety.  Pets ask for very little in return: food, a soft place to lay down, and maybe a laser pointer or tennis ball once in a while.  Companionship is a gift they give us year round.

-Dr. Ian Birkbeck

 Dr. Birkbeck writes monthly columns for the local publication, “The Viera Voice”.  If you have any pet medical questions you’d like to see answered in a future column, you can email them to

Posted in ,