Infinity Pet Health

★Helping you and your pets live healthier, longer lives★ by Dr. Margo Hunt

My “Top 3 Things” that might keep you out of the Animal Emergency Clinic tomorrow…

Did you know that the day of and the day after holidays see big traffic at the animal emergency clinic?  Wouldn’t you think that people would want to be home enjoying family and friends instead of spending their time and money on emergency vet bills?  Of course they would!

But, with holidays and houseguests, you increase the risk of these things.  Luckily, I’ll give you tips on how to avoid the bad outcomes and enjoy the moment.  Here is a list of my Top 3 Things that make Thanksgiving special…. but could land you in the emergency clinic this Thanksgiving.


1.  FOOD

Holidays always seem to have their own menu, don’t they?  If you’ve been to the grocery this week, you’ll see the same things in most people’s baskets… turkey, stuffing, cranberries, wine, chocolate, pumpkin, baking supplies, potatoes, etc.  A feast is a great way to celebrate the people in our lives who we don’t see often.

But, how do our pets see the holiday feast?  The classic Thanksgiving story is one of the family enjoying a great meal, then going to the couch to watch football, hopefully wearing their stretchy pants, only to return to a kitchen scene where the dog (or cat) has pulled the entire carcass down off the counter and eaten the whole thing…. and sometimes the pets raid the kitchen before the family has even gotten to taste the meal.  Another classic tale is that you’ve been proactive and already cleaned up, when your silly pet does a dumpster-diving maneuver and eats all those treasures you carelessly threw away.  It happens…   Trust me, you don’t want to be ordering pizza on Thanksgiving.  Some simple precautions can prevent this disaster.


Kennel the dogs, or leave them in another room until the meal is cooked, finished, and packed away.  Temporarily relocate the cats to a bedroom with their food, water, and litterbox so they stay out of trouble.  This isn’t just a worry about them destroying your meal…. they can become very sick from eating that rich food.

Also, there is the risk of eating the bones and causing an obstruction in the stomach or intestines.  So, if you were thinking of treating the pets by letting them clean the carcass, I would advise you to think again.

The Problem:

Pancreatitis is a real concern when any dog (and some cats) overindulge in rich, fatty foods such as turkey, bacon grease, or butter.  Foreign body obstruction and gastroenteritis (garbage gut) are real concerns as well.  Symptoms of problems may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, and/or not wanting to eat.  These pets often require multiple days in the hospital on iv fluids and medications, and possibly surgery, to have the best outcome, but even then, these issues can sometimes be fatal.

The Solution:  

There is no magic formula to know how much is too much for a given pet, so your best bet is to minimize the amount of people food or refrain from giving these as treats (especially true for Schnauzers who are notorious for developing this condition.)  Physically preventing access to the temptations is your best bet, but realize dogs can be very creative, so don’t think your trashcan lid is a deterrent to their schemes.


Is your house the gathering spot for out-of-town guests?  Mine tends to be, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  But, don’t forget that your furry family members may not be as keen on all the visitors as you are.  “Strangers”, as your pet may perceive them, are very stressful to some dogs and cats.  Your pet may not always show outward signs of anxiety, but if your pet tends to be scared in new social situations (submissive urination, excessive barking, drooling/yawning, aggression, hiding, inappropriate urination) then do your best to diffuse the situation before it happens.

The Problem:

Anxiety is a very real issue for pets.  Triggering anxiety with stimulus overload such as a houseful of screaming children (or in my case, they’re used to the children and it’s the screaming football fans that stress my cats), can be enough to start a cascade of biochemical events in your pet.  Symptoms of problems may not arise until several days to weeks after the event.

The most common issue we see in dogs is diarrhea or “stress colitis.”  This is believed to occur as a result in pH changes in the gut causing a massive die-off of the more fragile, “good” bacteria, resulting in an overgrowth of the “bad” bacteria… and much diarrhea.

In cats, they tend to have more stress-related urinary issues than gastrointestinal issues… but both can occur.  If your cat is urinating outside the litterbox, having blood in his urine, or straining in any way, this is NOT something that should be overlooked.  Some cats, especially male cats, will form life-threatening urinary tract obstructions where the “cause” is never identified, but a stressful event often preceded the episode.  And, “stressful” to your cat may mean you redecorated the house, were home late from work a few days a row, or had a new baby.

The Solution:

Minimize stress as much as possible if you have an anxiety-prone pet.  Things that can be helpful and are over-the-counter are “Happy Dog” or “Happy Cat” pheromone products.  For dogs, I like these collars, sprays, or diffusers.  For cats, I recommend placing a diffuser by the litterbox as well as the cat’s favorite room of the house.  The spray can be used as well, but is harder to be sure the cat will come in contact with the pheromones.  Cat collars are available, but I prefer to avoid collars in cats if possible.  Another option, Rescue Remedy for pets is an all-natural, homeopathic option that helps calm mild anxieties.  You can place a drop or two on a treat and feed it to your dog or cat.  If your pet has a history of illness from anxiety, then consider visiting your vet several days prior to the holidays to inquire if anti-anxiety medications are appropriate.

For dogs, you might consider adding probiotics to their food for several days before and after the stress event, and definitely avoid any new treats!  We recommend RxBiotic, but there are many other brands available as well.  Some dogs do well with Thundershirts, which are snug wraps that go around the body and provide feedback of security.  These can be helpful for holidays involving fireworks too.

For cats, keep the litterbox very clean by scooping 1-2 times per day.  Be sure the litterbox is in a low-traffic area if at all possible.  Increase your cat’s water intake by feeding canned food (if she likes it) and offering extra water.  In my experience, the best way to get a cat to drink more water is to gather many of your favorite drinking glasses, fill them with water and leave them strategically around the house on the coffee table, nightstand, kitchen table, desk, etc.  When cats think the cup is forbidden, they are much more likely to take a sip!  Recirculating water fountain bowls are an option as well (such as Drinkwell or Raindrop).

If your pet is beyond the point of prevention and is showing physical problems, be sure to visit your veterinarian or the emergency clinic in your area.  There might be something very urgent going on inside your pet, and ignoring the early signs can be a mistake.


When your friends come to visit, do they bring their pets?  Is that just a vet thing?  If your pets aren’t great buddies, then you’ll want to pay special attention to them getting annoyed by each other.  It’s not uncommon to see dog fights erupt during gatherings involving pets.  Even if your pets have gotten along in the past, add a few high-value treats or toys in the mix, and it could be a recipe for disaster.

The Problem:

We’ve already established that the holidays can be stressful for people and pets…. some dogs and cats may not have the social skills required to remain calm when new animals are in their territory.  When an animal feels threatened by this visitor, he or she may act out in an aggressive way and attack a pet or person.

The Solution:

If your pet has a history of aggression or fear in new situations, consider asking guests to leave their pets at home.  If that’s not an option, then find ways of providing relief and quiet for the stressed animal by providing a guest-free zone in a separate area such as a bedroom, utility room, or basement.  Although you may feel bad “leaving them out” of the holiday festivities, this may be their idea of the perfect holiday!

Thanks for checking in with me today, and I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love and who love you!


Dr. Margo Hunt

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4 comments on “My “Top 3 Things” that might keep you out of the Animal Emergency Clinic tomorrow…

  1. Pingback: Pet PetThe-Animal-Care.Net | The-Animal-Care.Net

    • Margo Hunt, DVM
      November 27, 2013

      Thanks for sharing! I’ll check out your fb group… look for us and “like” us back 🙂

  2. patmuller
    December 4, 2013

    Excellent read! Well done sista!

    From: Infinity Pet Health Reply-To: Infinity Pet Health Date: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 7:35 AM To: Pat Muller Subject: [New post] My Top 3 Things that might keep you out of the Animal Emergency Clinic tomorrow Margo Hunt, DVM posted: “Did you know that the day of and the day after holidays see big traffic at the animal emergency clinic? Wouldn’t you think that people would want to be home enjoying family and friends instead of spending their time and money on emergency vet bills? Of “

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This entry was posted on November 27, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
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