Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, many of our homes are filled with lots of tempting foods, not just for us, but for our pets. While it's best to keep pets on their regular diets, some people want to share some of their human food and figure if given in small amounts, the pets will be fine. But even the smallest changes in diet can result in severe gastric distress for your dog or cat.
Here are a few food tips to avoid a trip to the emergency vet.
First, supervise your food at all times. If you feed your pets first and offer a few doggie-related treats, they will be less tempted to stalk your holiday buffet.
Second, your pets won't miss not having turkey. It's better to give your dog a puzzle toy with dog treats, a dog chew, or a Kong with frozen dog food inside. Or you can buy turkey-flavored wet dog food as a special treat. If you insist on giving them human food, then only a little turkey breast (unsalted and unseasoned) or a few cooked veggies like carrots, green beans or sweet potatoes before they are turned into casseroles.
Do not let them have any sugary, salted, or seasoned foods, chocolate or bones, leftover turkey carcasses, onions or undercooked meats.
Use covered dishes. While a dog can certainly get past a covered dish, you may at least hear the glass or ceramic top being nosed off and onto the table or floor.
Finally, don't leave uneaten food on the counter or in the garbage to be taken out later. Dogs can get onto counters or into the trash as quietly as a mouse can scurry across a floor. Be vigilant and you might save yourself a trip to the emergency room.
Q My husband and I will be driving from New York to Florida with our two cats, one of whom, Zoey, came from an abusive hoarder's home and was adopted by us nearly nine years ago. While Zoey will sit next to me, let me brush and pet her, she still will not let me pick her up and runs every time I try to do so. I am the only one she will let touch her.
How will I ever be able to get her into a cage for the journey to Florida and how far ahead should I buy and leave the cage around, so she gets used to seeing it? We do not expect any problems transporting our other cat, Jack, and wonder if they can be in the same large cage together, or will they each need their own?
A friend told me that melatonin can be crushed and put into her food to calm her and that she may then allow me to pick her up. Please help us figure out a way to accomplish our Florida mission!
— Grace, Rockville Centre
A Start getting Zoey ready for the trip now so you can learn what works. I advise only trying melatonin (or valerian root) after talking to your vet about proper dosage because an overdose can cause unpleasant and sometimes serious side effects for your cat. You also can try putting a feline pheromone collar on Zoey to see if that calms her down. If neither works, your vet may recommend something stronger for the trip.
Next, I recommend getting a two-door top-loading kennel. It is much easier to put a cat into a kennel through the top door than the side door. I don't recommend Zoey and Jack be in the same kennel. Traveling can be stressful, and I don't want them to get irritated and fight with each other. So, get two kennels and leave them both in a low-traffic area with the side door open and a small blanket inside for the next few weeks. Spray the blanket with feline pheromones.
If that doesn't draw Zoey and Jack to the kennels to take a nap, then try rubbing some catnip on the blanket or adding a toy, treat or food bowl in each kennel to get them used to these spaces.
When the time comes, if Zoey doesn't go to the kennel on her own, sedate her, depending on what you and your vet have determined will work, drop a large towel over her, pick her up quickly and place her in the kennel via the top door.
It may take you a few weeks to find the right combination of things that will work.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.
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