Dr Clare Peterson covers six common emergencies that we see come through our doors through the festive season.
On Tuesday we covered ingestion of ornaments and Christmas items, chocolate and the risk of dog fights. Today we cover 3 other equally festive-related preventable emergencies that we see come through our doors traditionally at Christmas time.
4) The ‘Christmas Ham’ induced Pancreatitis Plague
The Christmas Ham has long been a staple at all hot and cold Christmas dinners and we all know the left overs are great to keep your family fed for the next week. Every year in the week after Christmas, however, the reception at AES is filled with dogs with vomiting/diarrhea and tummy pain. While ham itself is usually fine for our furry friends to eat, the addition of this and other high-fat foods into our dogs diet while trying to clean up our left overs can cause issues.
Pancreatitis is this inflammation of the pancreas and is induced in large part by the ingestion of high-fat foods. The diagnosis of pancreatitis will likely lead to a few days in hospital, and in severe cases it can actually be lethal. It is best if you want to feed your pet some Christmas left overs to ensure you are only feeding very small amounts of food that they have been exposed to before and that you know is safe for them to eat ie. NOT the cooked bone!!
5) The Bones that Bind
On that note, it seems only fitting to now talk about our next Christmas hazard: BONES! Yes I know, bones are a highly contested subject amongst pet owners and within the Veterinary community.
As an Emergency Vet I have seen all different problems that arise from feeding bones to dogs: broken teeth, mouth injuries, bones stuck in mouth, bones stuck in the oesophagus, bones stuck in the trachea, bone stuck in the intestines, bones stuck in the rectum (particularly uncomfortable for everyone involved) and then there are the bones that are no longer stuck as they have perforated the intestines and gone into the abdomen.
As you can see there is a theme: bones get stuck, animal comes to emergency.
Regardless of the hazards a lot of people still wish to feed their dogs bones and may have done so successfully by being very careful with how they do it.
The main rule of bones and dogs: NO COOKED BONES. Plain and simple, just don’t do it. Cooking bones makes them inherently brittle and they can splinter too easily allowing smaller bits to be ingested and cause injury to the mouth, teeth and intestinal tract.
Second, only allow your dog to chew on the raw bones, not ingest them. This means that the bones need to be large enough that your dog cannot fit the whole bone in their mouth and they need to be supervised while they have it. The bone itself is very porous and if ingested and it actually manages to make its way to the large intestine (colon), it can cause severe constipation and potentially lead to your animal needing an enema. Believe me, both your pet and I will thank you for preventing this.
One thing that not a lot of pet owners realise is how the disruption in routine can really affect your pets. In the festive season, we are often having get togethers with new people, there are new animals in the house, new furniture, or owners are going away for extended periods of time.
With this, we tend to see an increase in stress related illnesses during the festive season. This effect is most notable in our feline friends where it often shows up as an increase in the cases of feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) or interstitial cystitis. It is not well known what the exact link between stress and interstitial cystitis is but there is a well-documented link between stressful events and the onset of clinical signs. So, how do we decrease the stress that this season can cause for our pets? Try and keep your animals’ routine as stable as possible. If you have a particularly sensitive animal and you are going away, try to have someone pet sit in your home so they don’t have to leave their comfort zone. If you are having a holiday party try and have a separate area for your pet to get away from all the noise, new people and other pets. There are also some great products out there that release calming pheromones into the environment to help your pet adjust.
From all of us at Animal Emergency Service – we hope you have a calm emergency free festive season, and may 2017 be a year filled with wagging tails and happy adventures for both you and your furry/feathered family.