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Dog Emergency: How to Avoid Bad Situations During the Holidays

By: Jennifer McGough, VMD / Emergency Doctor/Emergency Director

Holidays tend to be a very busy time in the veterinary emergency room. At Metropolitan Veterinary Associates we’re available 24/7/365 to help you and your pet when you need us. But no one wants to spend a holiday at the emergency room! Here are some simple tips to use to try to avoid having to come to the emergency room instead of spending the day with your family and friends.

How to Avoid Dog Emergency Room – Slow Introductions

Holidays are a time when families visit and gather. Sometimes this means that your family and friends bring their dogs to visit too. Be sure to introduce unfamiliar dogs cautiously. Allow them to meet in a neutral space (in the yard or driveway) as opposed to a smaller confined space in the home where a dog may feel protective. Keep the dogs on leashes for their initial introduction and play. Some dogs can be protective of their food. Be sure to feed unfamiliar dogs in separate spaces so that they won’t have the opportunity to compete for their food. This type of cautious approach will help to avoid altercations resulting in bite wounds or other injuries.

Avoid Foods That Are Poisonous to Dogs

Holidays are also a time when delicious food is shared. These foods are tempting to dogs too. Be careful not to leave food and baked goods on counters that can be reached. Dogs can be remarkably resourceful when food smells good. My own dog will move chairs around the kitchen so that she can use them to help her jump up to the counter! Be cautious to keep human food out of the reach of dogs and use garbage cans with lids to dispose of food waste. Don’t be tempted to give your dog human food or leftover meat bones as a special treat over the holidays. Common food toxins for dogs are grapes, raisins, chocolate, and large amounts of onion or garlic. Avoiding exposure to human food can prevent gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis, and dangerous toxins.

When to Take Your Dog to Emergency Vet

Sometimes it is hard to know when you need to rush your dog to the emergency room and when you can wait. Many issues can be monitored at home for a day to see if they improve. For instance, if your dog is limping or if he has one episode of vomiting or diarrhea, it is ok to wait and see if these things resolve in a day or two. There are some times that you shouldn’t wait to have your pet evaluated. If your dog has any difficulty breathing, if they become suddenly and severely lethargic, or if they have intractable vomiting they should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

We hope these tips and tricks will help you and your pets have a safe, restful, and enjoyable holiday season! We also have some more holiday related tips for you – outdoor pet safety in colder weather and holiday foods that are poisonous to pets.