The holidays bring family, fun, and food to everyone and we love to include our pets in the festivities. But people aren’t the only ones who can suffer an upset stomach from overindulgence, stress, or a change in schedule.
Problems can range from vomiting and diarrhea to serious illness such as pancreatitis . No one wants to spend the holidays cleaning up messes or going to the veterinarian. A few precautions will keep you and your pet celebrating this holiday season.
Even for pets that enjoy all the holiday festivites, this added stress can have a negative effect on the digestive tract. Try to keep your pets’ on their normal routine of feeding and exercise. Enlist friends and neighbors or professionals for walking dogs on their regular schedule.
Be sure your pets has a place in the house where they can relax away from guests, such as a bedroom or crate. Even a friendly pet can be overwhelmed by large numbers of people in their homes so monitor your pet for any signs of stress including hiding or aggression. Don’t put your pet in a situation where he or she may feel that only way to avoid people is to bite or scratch. In some situations, day care or boarding may be less stressful for you and your pet during the holidays.
Limit table scraps and treats during the holidays, even treats that your pet has eaten before. Extra treats on top of the excitement of the holidays can increase the chance of a gi upset. Ask your guests to respect your pet’s well being and refrain from feeding your pet even if he or she begs. Limiting your pets access to the kitchen and dining room can help avoid a unintended snack.
If your pet regularly enjoys a chew treat, this can be a great way to occupy his or her time. The chewing can also help to relieve stress. For those guests who want to be a part of your pets holiday meals, allow them to feed the pet his or her regular food. At our house, we keep a small dish of the dogs kibble out for guests to offer him. If you must share the holiday with your pet through food, small amounts of lean meat are the least likely to upset their digestive tract.
Probiotics are a great way to minimize digestive upset, whether due to stress or changes in diet. There are several products made specifically for dogs and cats that maintain digestive health. I recommend feeding one of these products daily starting a week before the holidays and continuing until one week after.
If your pets does show signs of digestive upset, including vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite or abdominal pain, check in with your veterinarian right away to avoid having your holiday spoiled by an emergency.
Have a safe and happy holiday season!