Holidays can be tough time for pets

By TV Hagenah

In the excitement of the holidays, veterinarians say that often pets can fall from the focus of many people’s daily lives.

“It is unfortunate,” said veterinarian Dr. Jean Corey of the Tucumcari Animal Hospital. “But it definitely happens.”

The veterinarian said a number of different things can happen to a pet that owners might not necessarily let happen during any other time of the year.

Corey said that often the most obvious problem facing animals during the Christmas holidays is weather.
“We can put pets outside because we are having friends or family over and have our mind on other things and just forget about them,” said Corey. “And during times of cold weather this can be deadly.”

She said cold weather can cause accessible water dishes to freeze thus not allowing the animal sufficient water.

Corey said that losing track of a pet generally can be at the core of many holiday related pet accidents that she sees.

“People go outside to be with one another and the pet slips off into the road and before you know it, he gets hit,” said Corey. “People need to keep track of where their pets are, especially if there is a raised level of excitement in the house.”

That raised level of excitement is indeed dangerous for all pet owners around Christmas time because pets are seeing a world entirely foreign to them and they often have one reaction to it. They try to taste everything, and dogs may be the most common victim.

“They’re worse than a three year old,” said Corey. “Anything they see, they put in their mouth.”

Dangerous items include tinsel, ornaments, artificial trees, ribbon and many Christmas plants.

“People forget that poinsettias are poisonous. That’s definitely a problem,” she said.

Especially dangerous said the veterinarian are holiday lighting displays. She said both the lights because of their attractiveness and the light cords because of their similarities to ropes and toys can draw the interest of house pets used to roaming freely around the house. Often a dangerous shock can be the result.

Food is also a potential danger to pets over the holidays that pet owners need to take into consideration. Corey said that one of the most common reasons for her to see a pet over the Christmas holidays at the pet hospital is what she calls “greedy gut.”

She said the tendency is since there is more and richer food available to the humans, people often give that food to pets also, but it is almost never a wise decision.
“It can cause intestinal upset, often badly enough to need hospitalization.”

Another food that is dangerous to pets is chocolate. She said that many people do not realize just how bad for pets that confection is for their four-legged friends.

Pets as gifts

Pet experts generally agree that the positives that can arise because people own pets are innumerable, but they also caution that giving pets as gifts for Christmas can be setting a situation up for failure.

“It definitely shouldn’t be something you spring on a person,” said Corey. “People have to be prepared for it and be mature enough to handle a pet, also.”

Corey said in the case of parents getting a pet for a son or daughter the parents should be prepared to take care of it when the newness wears off no matter how much the child says he or she will take care of it.

Clovis veterinarian Jack Murphy concurred with Corey regarding many of her concerns about giving a pet as a gift but add, “There is no being that gives more love than a pet.”
Murphy said there are so many lessons that a pet can teach a person but parents of potential receivers of pets should be careful to match the pet size with the child receiving it.

“You don’t want to mismatch,” said Murphy. “Small kids can be knocked down very easily by big dogs unless the animal is really well trained.”

Murphy also said that new pet owners have to be aware of what is needed in the way of vaccinations and feeding.
“Some people out here, and I imagine everywhere, just don’t understand about those,” said Murphy, and out here you need to.”