Monday, December 17, 2012


Ah, yes, the holidays are upon us in full swing and will be going strong for more than two weeks yet.  All you have to do is look around you, talk to your friends, and see how busy your own calendar has realize that the holidays are full of stress.  If you think you've been "stressed out" by all that activity, can you imagine what your habit-oriented pets must be feeling amidst all the hoopla?  Are pets affected by stress during the holidays?  You betcha....

Do Dogs Get Holiday Stress?

Did you put up your holiday decorations yet? Some folks have their tree and outdoor lights up before the Thanksgiving turkey comes out of the oven; others prefer to wait until later in the season.
With all the holiday preparations you're making … shopping, wrapping presents, planning holiday meals, getting the house ready for guests or perhaps packing and preparing to leave for a holiday trip… you may be a little more than stressed.
Did you know your dog can pick up on that and be stressed out himself?
Any change in your dog's routine can cause stress. And when your dog is stressed, he may misbehave, including destroying things around the house or chewing up shoes or furniture. He could hurt himself, such as biting or scratching excessively. He might bark a lot or make “messes” while you are gone or act frantically when you return home.
This is your dog's way of telling you he's not getting enough social interaction with you and he's under a lot of stress. Preparing your dog for the holidays can greatly reduce his stress at this time of year.
Here are some simple yet highly-effective ways to help your dog chill out during the holidays:
1) First, keep your dog's feeding and exercise routine the same throughout the holidays. If you are going away or can't take care of your dog at the usual times, designate a family member or neighbor or hire a pet sitter to provide meals or walks at the usual times.
2) When your family is busy with preparations or you‘re throwing a party, put your dog in a quiet room with plenty of water, a soft comfy bed and a favorite toy or treat.
3) If you're having guests over, work on your dog's greeting manners to save the stress of being constantly corrected. Have a friend or family member knock on the door while you practice sitting and staying with your dog. Give your pet plenty of attention and extra activity before your guests arrive. Be sure to remind your guests not to give your dog any treats or table scraps.
4) If you're going away for a holiday vacation, it's important to teach your dog that your departure is not a sign of bad things. Get your dog used to the idea of your being gone. The more that they witness you leaving and coming back, the less shocking the departure will be. Pretend that you're going to leave, but then come right back. Repeat this several times, rewarding your dog when he remains quiet and calm.
Doing this will help your dog learn to stay relaxed when he sees that you're leaving... since he never knows when you're actually leaving! After a while, this relaxed way of dealing with your leaving will become the norm for your dog. When you do leave, be sure to remain calm yourself. Try giving him a special toy that will occupy his mind. Casually tell your dog goodbye and leave without a lot of fuss. If you don't treat leaving like a big deal, neither will your dog.
In addition to all of those stress-inducing circumstances, there are many ways for pets to get themselves into trouble and be "victims" of the holidays.
10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Dog Emergencies
#1. Gastrointestinal Upset - This is a common problem that occurs during the holidays. Adorable dogs beg for human food that doesn't agree with their stomachs.  Turkey bones left in an accessible place are irresistible to pets, and can lodge in an animal's throat or block the intestinal tract. Remove leftovers from the table and don't leave garbage where animals can get to it.

 Don't forget that alcohol and chocolate are toxic to dogs and should never be given to them.
#2. Ornament Ingestion - Some dogs play with ornaments as if they were toys, frequently shattering them or breaking off small pieces. They either ingest pieces of the ornament or the hook or are injured by broken glass. Don't use edible ornaments or fragile, easily breakable glass decorations to trim the tree (especially on the lower branches where curious pets can reach them).
#3. Falling Trees - Your pet may knock over the tree, trying to get to the bulbs or while playing under the tree.  The needles (even artificial ones) are indigestible and can cause gastric upset. You can keep your dog away from the tree (using a baby gate in the doorway or low lattice fencing) or secure the tree so it can't be knocked over.
#4. Ornament Hooks - Don't use wire ornament hooks that can easily snag an ear or a tail, or, if swallowed, lodge in the throat or intestines. Instead, fashion loops of yarn, ribbons or lightweight twine.
#5. Ingestion of String, Tinsel or Ribbon - Any item that an animal swallows, including string, ribbon on gifts, or bulbs, can become what vets refer to as a foreign body. Swallowing any of these things can require surgery. Shiny materials such as string, tinsel, and ribbon are particularly appealing at this time of year. Prevent  your pets' access to the gifts unless supervised.
#6. Burns and House Fires - Candles are popular this time of year and dogs can knock over a candle with their wagging tails. This can cause burns and even house fires. Another common cause of house fires (which has nothing to do with your dog) is a dried out Christmas tree. Keep your tree watered to prevent it from catching fire.
#7. Drinking Tree Water. Some pets will drink water from the tree. Don't use preservatives in the stand water. They can be toxic if consumed by a thirsty pet. Carefully cover the top of the stand with a tree skirt so your pet can't get to it.
#8. Potpourri - Liquid potpourri is commonly used during the holidays to give a nice aroma to the home. Dogs can be attracted and lick some up. This can cause caustic chemical burns to the mouth, gums, tongue and esophagus. These burns can be severe enough to require hospitalization and placement of a feeding tube.
#9. Electrocution - Some dogs (especially curious puppies) will chew on or bite electrical cords causing life-threatening electrocution. Make sure electrical cords are out of reach, taped firmly to walls or floors.

 Cover wires with a rug if needed and tape the edges down.
#10. Plant Problems - Certain plants are a menace to dogs: poinsettias irritate the stomach and eyes. Berries of the Jerusalem cherry are toxic when ingested and cause pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Holly and mistletoe, amaryllis, chrysanthemum, rhododendron and winter broom as well as Christmas berry, cherry, pepper and rose can all cause problems to pets that ingest them.
Another way for a pet to be negatively affected by the holidays is to be offered to someone as a gift.  Even though this gesture would be meant in a positive way, a gift of a pet during the holidays frequently ends up as a disaster.
Pets as gifts? Not a good idea, experts say
If you are thinking about giving someone a pet as a holiday gift, most animal experts suggest you think again.

While the excitement of surprising a loved one with an adorable puppy or kitten may be tempting, pets are not like a sweater or piece of jewelry that can be easily returned or re-gifted.
"Pet ownership is not an impulse to jump into," Dr. Mollie Hurley, of Stack Veterinary Hospital in Onondaga, said. "And by not talking it over with the recipient or really thinking things through completely, (giving or receiving a pet as a gift) might not be as enjoyable as it could be."
Companion animals may live for 15 years, and need life-long care in homes where they are loved and treated as members of the family.
"We see it a lot," Deeann Schaefer, humane educator at Wanderers' Rest Humane Association, an animal shelter in Canastota, said. "The person they're giving the pet to may not have time for it, they may not be able to afford a pet, and some of them may not even want a pet at that particular time."
While a pet given as a gift initially costs the person on the receiving end little or nothing, there is no such thing as a "free" animal.
A spread sheet at listed first-year pet care cost estimates -- not including the cost of purchasing the animal -- ranging from $1,314 for a small dog to $1,843 for a large dog, and $1,035 for a cat. Of course, that's just for the first year, and as animals age, their need for veterinary care may increase.
 Schaefer said that too often gift animals end up in shelters, which are already filled with unwanted pets. Or worse, they may be neglected, abused or abandoned. She estimates the number of dogs and cats at Wanderers' Rest increases by at least 10 to 15 percent after the holidays.
 "People realize they may have bitten off more than they can chew," Schaefer said. "We see a lot of kittens and cats coming into the shelter six months later, when the cuteness has worn off. Same thing with puppies, eight or nine months later. Suddenly, it's not the cute roly-poly puppy that was underneath the Christmas tree, it's a dog that's chewing up your furniture."
 Hurley said adding a young animal to a household at this time of year presents special challenges.
 "During the holidays there's a lot of chaos, it's a hectic time. People have a lot of things going on and may not be able to pay attention to the pet's needs," she said.
 Hurley also cited the health risks of young animals ingesting ribbon and other holiday items, and added, "Taking a puppy outside every couple hours to get it potty trained in the winter is certainly not easy," she said.
 Schaefer said the phones are already ringing at Wanderers' Rest. "We actually have people calling and asking us, 'When are you getting your puppies in?' like we're Kmart or something," she said.
 Schaefer recommends, instead, giving a pet-themed gift basket and a gift certificate from a shelter, which would allow the recipient to personally pick out his or her own animal.
 If a person says they want to adopt a dog or cat to give to someone else, Schaefer said Wanderers' Rest requires the recipient to come in and confirm that he or she does indeed want the animal.
 "Is it going to ruin the surprise? Yes, but we want every family member on board." Schaefer said.
In addition to being exposed to stressful situations during the holidays, two of the four most common medical problems seen in pets by veterinarians rear their ugly heads during this time as well.
Common Dog Emergencies
Most pet owners would guess that the most common dog emergencies are severe traumas. However, the fact is that the most common reasons for emergency room visits are frequent and minor problems that just happen to flare up after-hours when regular vets are closed. This leaves emergency rooms as the only available option for treatment.
Here are the four most common problems:
1. The most common emergency is vomiting. Hands down, this brings more patients into emergency clinics than any other condition. One night I was at the local emergency vet and within an hour we saw 3 different dogs come in with vomiting (two were puppies). There are lots of causes for vomiting, ranging from serious metabolic diseases to dietary indiscretions.
2. The second most common emergency in dogs is diarrhea. Parasites, dietary changes or indiscretions, and metabolic diseases can cause diarrhea. (In fact, many things that can cause vomiting can also cause diarrhea.) One common cause of vomiting is parvovirus. Commonly called "parvo," this virus can very quickly weaken an otherwise healthy dog and is frequently fatal.
3. The third most common dog emergency is not eating. The lack of an appetite is a common symptom and can be caused by just about every problem a dog can get, from very minor to serious.  Because there are so many possible causes (including infections, trauma, parasites, and various other diseases), this is one condition that is hard to prevent. Not eating is one of the symptoms that you should never ignore in your dog.
4. The fourth most common problem is foreign ingestion (usually called "getting into stuff"). The "stuff" can be toxins such as household cleaning chemicals or poison, or even eating a toy that can get caught in their intestines. Every day our phone rings with calls from owners telling us their dog got into and ate one thing or another. Foreign bodies are extremely dangerous to your dog.
These four problems are very common and unfortunately they are likely to affect your pet at one time or another. Many emergencies are caused by exposure to toxins, owners feeding their pets table scraps and pets getting access to trash. Please be very careful with what you feed your dog. Also, do not give any medications unless instructed by your veterinarian.
Why is My Dog Throwing Up?
We hate to see our dogs in any kind of pain or discomfort, so naturally we get upset when our dogs throw up and fear the worst. But there are many different reasons why a dog might throw up, and some are quite easy to deal with. Here are some reasons why your dog might throw up, and the things you can do to help him deal with it:
Eating too fast
Sometimes dogs get excited that they're being fed and wolf down their food too quickly. When this happens, they might end up regurgitating partially eaten food almost immediately after they're done eating. To prevent this, you can feed your dog smaller portions more frequently. This will limit how much they can eat at one time and increase the chance that they will digest their food rather than regurgitating it
Intestinal parasites
These tiny critters can cause a world of pain for a dog, especially a small puppy. Intestinal parasites can cause vomiting and diarrhea as well as inflammation, intestinal damage, and worse. Dogs typically pick up parasites from yards and parks, especially when eating or drinking something unfamiliar. There are many effective medications to help your dog get rid of common parasites but don't try this at home. Take him in to the vet's with a stool sample (very important!) and your vet should be able to address the situation safely and quickly
Table scraps
Do you feed your dog human food from time to time? You will want to shake that habit. Feeding your dog table scraps can lead to stomach problems since it can upset his stomach and prevent him from getting the proper nutrition. Some seemingly “healthy” foods can be harmful in other ways. Chicken bones, for instance, are very sharp and can cause intestinal bleeding and vomiting if ingested and broken.
If your dog begs while you eat, try putting him in another room while everyone eats. Feed him at the same time as the humans eat, or give him a fun toy to play with to distract him. He might very well whine but you need to stay strong. Over time the begging behavior will decrease.
Food intolerance
If your dog is throwing up after every meal, he may simply be allergic to his current food. You can figure out if your dog has a food intolerance by eliminating ingredients one-by-one from his diet. If the vomiting stops once an ingredient is omitted (or resumes when it is added again), you have probably found your culprit.
Whatever the reason for your dog's upset stomach, you'll want to make sure you're providing an excellent diet when your dog feels better.
While the above are common reasons for dogs to vomit, please remember that if your dog keeps vomiting for more than a day, you must get him to a veterinarian! Many times an upset stomach is nothing to be worried about, but sometimes it can be a sign of illness that needs treatment. If you're not sure if you should be concerned, call your vet and ask.
Vomiting in Dogs
At one time or another your dog may have a bout of vomiting. Usually he'll have eaten something disagreeable, eaten too much or too fast, exercised too soon after eating or any number of non-serious conditions. Vomiting may be a sign of a very minor problem. Or it may be a sign of something very serious.
Vomiting (emesis) is the act of expelling contents from the stomach through the mouth. It's a reflex act, involving a triggering stimulus (such as inflammation of the stomach), the central nervous system and abdominal muscles that work together to expel the contents from the stomach. There are multiple causes of vomiting. An occasional, infrequent isolated episode of vomiting is usually normal.
Vomiting is a symptom that can be caused by disorders of the gastrointestinal system (stomach and/or intestines) or it can be secondary to a disease from a different system (such as from cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, or infectious diseases). This can make the diagnosis of the cause of the vomiting a challenge.
Vomiting can be defined as acute (sudden onset) or chronic (longer duration of one to two weeks). The severity or concurrence of other signs will determine the recommendation of specific diagnostic tests. Important considerations include monitoring the duration and frequency of the vomiting. If your pet vomits once then eats normally with no further vomiting, has a normal bowel movement and is acting playful, then the problem may resolve on its own. If the vomiting continues after your pet eats or if your pet acts lethargic, or doesn't want to eat, then medical attention is warranted.
What to Watch For:
• Dehydration
• Lethargy
• Diarrhea
• Weight Loss
• Blood in the vomit
• Ineffective vomiting
Optimal therapy of any serious or persistent medical condition depends on establishing the correct diagnosis. There are numerous potential causes of vomiting and before any treatment can be recommended, it is important to identify the underlying cause. Initial therapy should be aimed at the underlying cause.
Treatments for vomiting may include one or more of the following:
• Eliminate predisposing cause (exposure to trash, change in diet, eating plants, etc).
• An acute episode of vomiting in a playful pet, in the absence of other physical abnormalities, may be treated symptomatically without hospitalization (outpatient treatment). Outpatient treatment may consist of subcutaneous fluids, injectable antiemetics (drugs used to control nausea and vomiting) and a follow-up appointment if the symptoms are not resolved immediately.
• Pets that have abdominal pain, diarrhea and act lethargic or have any other physical abnormality, may be treated with hospitalization. Hospital therapy may include intravenous fluid administration, 24-hour monitoring, and drug therapy. This is often combined with diagnostic testing to determine the cause of the vomiting.
• Sick pets may require referral to an emergency or 24 hour hospital that offers around-the-clock care.
Vomiting in the Cat
Vomiting, or the forceful ejection of stomach and proximal duodenal (upper small intestinal) contents through the mouth, is a symptom commonly observed in cats; it is not a disease. Your cat’s vomiting can be a symptom of any one of a wide range of acute or chronic illnesses encompassing almost all body systems, from cardiovascular and respiratory to gastrointestinal to renal (kidney) to dermatologic. Differentiating vomiting from coughing and regurgitation is important.
When a cat is vomiting, you should see a considerable amount of abdominal movement. The cat's abdomen will seem to pulsate violently, and the cat's head might appear to bob.
Coughing involves the thorax rather than the abdomen. A cat that is coughing will often crane its head and neck forward, holding its head still while keeping its front paws under its chest and its elbows off to the side.
Regurgitation, or the passive expulsion of food or fluid from the oral cavity, pharyngeal cavity, or esophagus, usually is sudden, without the violent wind-up that proceeds vomiting. A regurgitating cat might be silent or could sound like it's gagging.
If your cat has recently been vomiting or vomits more than once a month, please consult with your veterinarian. The websites reviewed in this Cat Health Topic can help you determine whether your cat is vomiting, what other signs to look for, when you should go to your veterinarian, and what tests might be needed to determine what is causing your cat's vomiting.
There are so many things to enjoy and have fun with over the holidays...getting together with good friends, sharing festive moments and the excitement of the beginning of a new year.  Don't ruin those good times by creating problems for your pets.
Due to an Internet "bottom feeder" sending distasteful comments, Helpful Buckeye has installed a slight change in the process for sending a comment at the end of each issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.   While still welcoming comments, Helpful Buckeye also encourages readers to send an e-mail with your questions and comments to:   


The Pittsburgh Steelers gave away the game to the Cowboys, first of all with a fumble in the 4th quarter, then an interception in overtime.  Shoddy play by a very shoddy team...not a winning combination.

As the Steve Miller Band sang, we've just been keepin' on keepin' on....

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

1 comment:

  1. That game? Enough to make a human vomit. The dogs didn't seem to care either way. I'm sorry I haven't been commenting and such, and I know I owe you some more info on Argyle who is a fun monster of a young dog. Just learned a few days ago that Fiona, only 7, has been diagnosed as early on-set pituitary dependent Cushing's. I can only hope that treatment has become better than it was back in the early 80s when my Cairn was diagnosed. At that time, the treatment threw him into Addison's. The problem for me who believes knowledge is power, is that there is so much crap info and OLD info on the internet, I don't now where to start to find things to help. Not that I'm coming to you for the answers, but I just wanted to remind you once again, Doc, how great it is to have a site like this that presents info in a easily understood, competent, and lovingly provide by a great professional.