Holistic Holiday Health Tips for Pets
by Dr. Galina Bershetyn, DVM, CVFT, CVA
Cold Weather Woes
Arthritic flare-ups tend to worsen in the colder months, so joint health is especially important to address during this time of year. As listed in our arthritis newsletter, supplements with fish oils, MSM, glucosamine and chondroitin can lubricate joints, thereby decreasing pain and inflammation. Articulaire and Antitis from Alpha Vet Science are very effective joint supplements for creaky bones. Stretching and massage exercise owners can do at home can also be incorporated into your pet’s winter routine to help keep them mobile this winter
Booties offer warmth and protection in the winter to prevent frostbite or cuts and scrapes on ice. Barefooted animals will still feel more of a chill than snow-booted humans. Paw Wax is a less warm but still protective alternative to booties for those pets who don’t have fashion sense. Unlike people, however, dogs and cats are capable of shunting their blood to protect vital mid-body organs in extreme weather conditions.
If your pet is wary to plunge into the cool air, try bundling him or her with extra layers. Place the dog bed in front of the fireplace or add a heating pad to the cat’s favorite spot. Offer slightly warmed treats to increase food aroma and inner body warmth.
Pet Holiday Safety
Just like Halloween and Thanksgiving, winter celebrations can pose a safety hazard to curious canines and kitties. Be sure to keep these ideas in mind during the holidays:
- Keep an eye on the Christmas ham! Similar to turkey, pets can “overdose” on ham, resulting in acute pancreatitis. Probiotics, like Probenz (Alpha Vet Science) or Progut (Ceva) can be beneficial for holiday upset tummies.
- String the lights out of reach. Some pets–cats, rabbits, ferrets, and guinea pigs especially–like to chew on stringy things, and nobody wants an unexpected electric shock before the New Year. Biting into a light strand can even cause mouth burns and seizures.
- Tinsel and ribbon are a leading cause for cat ER trips around the holidays!
- Place cookies and candy out of reach. Gum (xylitol) and chocolate in particular should be avoided.
- Beware of lit candles and wandering pets.
- No holly and ivy, and no lilies for cats. They can cause GI, heart, or kidney problems if ingested. Poinsettias are actually relatively safe. Don’t forget to keep antifreeze safely out of reach! For more information on potential poisons please visit: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control
- Make sure ornaments are non-breakable and non-ingestible.
With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we can forget that it may be a fun but stressful time for our furry family. Not everyone loves a house full of guests or loud music, especially cats and anxious dogs! Essential oils can be a great tool to combat holiday burnout for everyone. Essential oils can be diffused in the home or applied topically, sprayed around beds, crates etc. to help create a peaceful environment. Keep in mind animals are more sensitive to essential oils and purity is paramount, especially for our feline friends. Use only therapeutic grade oils (Young Living, DoTerra) and start with minimal amounts e.g. 1-4 drops in a 300 ml diffuser.
Young Living- 1 part Peace and Calm Doterra- 1 part Serenity
1 part Valor 1 part Balance
1 part lavender 1 part lavender
There are also natural supplements that help with stress and anxiety. Anzio-Vm (Alpha Vet Science) with valerian root works great for stressful occasions or can be used daily for cumulative effect. Supplements containing casein and L-tryptophan are also helpful, as well as a variety of Chinese herbal options. Most importantly, if your pet does not enjoy visitors, make sure there is a quiet safe space for them to be able to get away from the action.
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