Ticks, Turkey & Chills…oh my! Fall Pet Tips
With the seasons changing and holiday festivities quickly approaching, there are lots of questions that come up around pet’s health and comfort. As always, when in doubt, ask your personal veterinarian for specific guidance on your pet.
How do I keep my pet comfortable in the colder weather?
As we unearth our favorite cozy winter sweaters and snow boots, remember to take care of the winter needs of your pets. Older dogs may need warm sweaters for the first time. Newly adopted dogs, especially those with short fur, may need a jacket as the weather cools. And keep a close eye on those paws! Road salts can damage sensitive paws, ice can cause trauma, and long fur between toes may need trimming so that snow and ice doesn’t clump and cause discomfort. Booties may be helpful and come in many styles and fits.
For cats and older animals, leave out a soft blanket or pet bed in a warm room or sunny spot so they can snuggle up for a long nap. If they have arthritis, consider buying a pet bed designed to soothe aching joints, which may bother them more in colder months. And make sure your heating system is reliable, especially if you need to leave your cat home alone for long stretches of time.
Help! Nothing seems to work with these Connecticut/northeastern ticks!
Ticks are increasingly vicious, it seems. Ask your vet for particular brand recommendations; specific products may have better efficacy in different areas. There is unfortunately an abundance of counterfeit products that are difficult to distinguish from the “real deal.” If at all possible, purchase your preventatives from your vet office to ensure quality. Many vets offer services with an online pharmacy or other delivery options if that is helpful. Diligent grooming and checking your pets for ticks are also helpful. Lastly, keep in mind that as the years go by the winter weather is changing and some areas don’t experience the deep winter-long freeze as was once typical. As such, ticks are more prevalent throughout the winter and many veterinarians advise on giving year-round preventative rather than stopping through the cold months as was often traditionally recommended. Reach out to your veterinarian for their specific guidance.
How can my dogs and cats safely enjoy Thanksgiving dinner?
Ask many vets about Thanksgiving and they immediately talk about their preparation for what emergencies they may be seeing. Some tips and things to think about:
- Keep trash safely stashed away from curious critters.
- Ensure fun strings, splintering bones, and other items that animals may want to munch on are similarly tucked away.
- Some common food toxicities include: chocolate, onions, grapes/raisins, macadamia nuts, and xylitol (artificial sweetener). (See below for more information.)
- Even non-toxic foods may cause gastrointestinal distress. Mildly, diarrhea and vomiting may be seen. More severely, high fat foods (yummy turkey skin, gravy, we’re looking at you!) can cause pancreatitis which is a potentially fatal disease (more information below).
Again, ask your vet (broken record, I know), but some generally safe foods to share in small amounts include unseasoned lean turkey meat, string beans, and sweet potatoes. Yum!
How can I help my pet not experience their own holiday-induced stress?
Holiday decorations and flashing lights, scary car trips to new places, strangers showing up in the house, and boarding somewhere for an overnight stay – our joyful holiday season and celebrations may spell anxiety for some critters! If you know your pet suffers, reach out pro-actively to your veterinarian now about specific training and/or medical advice on how to assist with these stressors. If this is your pet’s first holiday season, keep a close eye on how they handle these new situations and be prepared to quickly intervene to ensure they enjoy the season as much as we do!
– Dr. Emily Andersen, DVM, CVA, CVFT
For more information:
Pancreatitis in Dog: FYI, Veterinary Partner is a great website written by veterinarians for pet owners to learn about pet health and disease!