Ask a vet: looking ahead to the holidays, the scoop on poop & other things

by Dr. Amanda Hanna, Licensed Veterinarian

The holiday season is nearly upon us, and don’t we all need a reason to celebrate the season and to usher in the new year?! Good bye and good riddance to 2020!

In the spirit of the season, there is a good chance that your pet(s) and foster(s) (if you have one!) will have an opportunity to get in on some good treat action and socialization with new animals visiting from various places. This is a good time to refresh some important dos and don’ts over the holidays. 

The scoop on poop: New pet ownership and/or fostering can be stressful. Stress in dogs and cats can often lead to loose stool or diarrhea, especially in the face of new foods or treats, which is very common when animals are moved to new environments. Probiotics (available over the counter or provided by HPA! for HPA! fosters) can greatly decrease the effects of stress and diet change in dogs and cats. Further, fatty treats and foods common during the holidays can cause a myriad of upset tummy troubles. Some can be life threatening, like pancreatitis, which can cause profuse vomiting, dehydration, and pain in addition to diarrhea. 

The bottom line: make sure that Grandma doesn’t slip Fido bits of turkey or other “human foods” your pet is not used to when you’re not looking. For HPA! fosters, dog food for dogs and cat food for cats is provided and its use is highly encouraged to prevent diarrhea and stomach upset caused by fatty or sweet foods the animal is not used to eating. 

Fun new friends: In addition to new foods, the introduction of new animals can be stressful. Your (foster) pet may have a hard time adjusting to your parent’s, sibling’s, or friend’s dog/cat if they come to visit for the holidays. We often see the results of fighting between animals during the holiday season, since they weren’t separated or monitored appropriately. Just because the visiting dog plays nice doesn’t mean your (foster) pet will – especially if they are still adjusting to your house.

Squabbles can be over food, toys, bedding, even a coveted spot on the couch near you. Fighting can range from mild scuffling to severe/life threatening injuries. New dogs should always be introduced on neutral territory (NOT territorial places like the back yard, bedroom, etc.), and new playmates should always be monitored or kenneled separately when they can’t be monitored. Great tips and tricks to help introduce new dogs and cats are provided to HPA! fosters, as well as informative blogs like four ways to know your dog is engaged in “good play” are available to all. 

At HPA!, there are so many reasons we have to be thankful this holiday season. These last few months haven’t been easy, but thanks to our donors, fosters, volunteers, and adopters, we’ve been able to save more cats and dogs than we thought ever possible! We know you all deserve to have a wonderful holiday season, and we thank you for continuing to support Houston Pets Alive!


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