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The holidays are here again, and that means meeting with friends and family, eating good food and having a great time. Unfortunately, these celebrations also increase the risk of pet poisoning. Seasonal foods and decorations increase the chances that furry family members can get into something that's seriously bad for their health. Here’s how you can keep your clients informed of the dangers and encourage them to take the right actions to protect their pets.
Decorations to Watch Out For
They might not be food, but these items can still be consumed by pets. Decorations pose a choking hazard, while poinsettias, mistletoe, pine, balsam, cedar and holly are poisonous. Tinsel and decorations made from salt-based dough are tempting to pets, causing frequent digestive tract issues. There’s also a good chance pets will try and drink the water feeding a real Christmas tree. This makes adding sugar or aspirin a potential health hazard.
High Risk Holiday Foods
High levels of sugar and fat aren’t good for humans, and they can cause major health problems for pets. Likewise, human-safe chemicals like caffeine can be deadly. These foods are the most common sources of digestive problems during the holiday:
- Fatty meats and bacon grease
- Chicken bones
- Xylitol, a sweetener used in sugar-free food, gum, and some peanut butters
Homemade Pet Treats
Sure, it’s fun to make “pet safe” cakes and treats to make cute photos and get pets in on the celebration. However, available recipes frequently take looks into account more than health.
“What if I recommend something healthy that my clients can make at home?” While this may seem like a good idea, the execution of homemade recipes leaves a lot to be desired. One study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science found that pet owners rarely followed recipes for homemade dog food. Participants in the study were given recipes that would provide the needed nutrition to their pets. About a third of those participants purposely changed the recipe. One third also left out supplements, 40% carelessly measured ingredients and almost 3/4s of participants didn’t add the right amount of oil and salt. Add in the urge to treat their pets, and even well-meaning instructions can lead to digestive problems.
Even if the food is safe, pets can get used to homemade treats and will become finicky. This can be a major problem when returning to regular food.
Creating an Emergency Care Plan
There’s no room for guessing when it comes to animal poisoning. A treatment that may work for one poison could cause disastrous results for another poison. Giving your clients information on handling poison now will help their pets have a better outcome.
- Encourage clients to seek medical attention immediately if their pet eats something dangerous. They should know that it may take days for symptoms to appear but going ahead with treatment will lead to a better outcome.
- Make sure they have your business card on hand, as well as other pet poison information services like the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Ready access to information can save precious time solving dangerous health issues. Clear veterinary labels on medications will also help outside health consultants if they need to check for drug interactions.
- Suggest keeping medicines like milk of magnesia and hydrogen peroxide on hand to aid in poison control.
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