Hello, Alamogordo! I’m veterinarian Dr. Katie Lambden of Paw in Hand Veterinary Care. Welcome to Vet Minute.

Today’s topic is Holiday Hazards. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we are all looking forward to delicious meals and time with family and friends. Make sure your pets enjoy the fun and stay safe with these tips.

One of the biggest hazards to pets at this time of year is over-eager consumption of table food. While some dogs and cats can enjoy a bit of table food in moderation, others are more sensitive to changes in diet and to the high fat content in many holiday meals. Eating a lot of table scraps can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and even pancreatitis. Remember that for a 10 pound dog, eating just one pig-in-a-blanket is like an average human eating 15 or 20! Ingredients such as onions, garlic, and chocolate can be toxic. When in doubt, it’s best to avoid sharing holiday fare with your pets, even when they look at you with their best puppy dog eyes!

Another hazard is getting into the trash. When the big meal is over, the garbage is full of tempting leftovers, such as a turkey carcass, fat drippings, etc. Bones can cause esophageal obstruction or lacerations, and they can sometimes fracture teeth. Fat drippings can throw the gastrointestinal tract into distress and set off pancreatitis. String used to tie a roast together can be eaten and be deadly to the intestines, requiring emergency surgery to remove it. Food that has sat in the trash for a day or two may start rotting, causing food poisoning to the innocent consumer who just thinks how delicious it smells and tastes. Please keep the trash can secure or remove kitchen garbage to an area dogs and cats can’t get to.

Holiday decorations can be hazardous to pets, as well. Nuts in their shells may be swallowed whole, creating choking and intestinal blockage potential. Tinsel is irresistible to many cats, who end up swallowing it and requiring surgery to remove it. Poinsettias are toxic and cause gastrointestinal distress when chewed on.

The holidays are a time for travel, for visiting family and friends, and hosting visitors in your own home. With so many people coming and going, the holidays are a common time for pets to get lost. Making sure your pet is microchipped, and the chip registered with your current phone number and address, is a great way to increase the likelihood that your pet will be found should he or she escape. Ensure that house guests know to keep doors closed for indoor cats, and gates closed for dogs. Set up boarding arrangements for pets well in advance of holiday travel, so your furry family members are in trusted hands while you are away.

Wishing all of you in the Sacramento Mountains and Tularosa Basin a wonderful and safe holiday season!

This “Vet Minute” brought to you by Dr. Katie Lambden of Paw in Hand Veterinary Care on Cuba Avenue in Alamogordo, and KHII. Submit your questions for consideration on upcoming shows by visiting our website at pawinhandvet.com or calling us at (575) 434-4343.