Dr. Louise Janes D.V.M. & Dr. Jeff Grognet D.V.M.

Christmas Hazards

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Dr. Louise and Dr. Jeff connected in 1984 while Louise was the shepherd at UBC Agricultural Sciences. They later married in 1992 and dreamed of creating a practice they could share. In the fall of 1995, they moved to Oceanside and officially opened the doors of the Mid-Isle Veterinary Hospital in Qualicum Beach in 1996. Their care focuses on dogs and cats, utilizing integrative medicine – a blend of traditional and complementary therapies. Full examination, surgical, and radiological facilities are also available. They call themselves integrative practitioners.

For those of you who are taking time during this busy season to read this column, we send wishes for a happy and safe festive season for both you and your four-leggeds. Though the holidays are fraught with potential hazards for your furry kids, you can easily keep them safe with an ounce of common sense.

The most common holiday ailment is the simplest one to prevent. Overeating disease only occurs if you let it. You have to remember that dogs are creatures of habit. Because many dogs eat the same thing every day, their digestive tracts are not prepared for the Christmas food assault.

If you give a dog a meal of turkey and all the trimmings, you can expect him to have a stomach upset and probably diarrhea. In the worst case scenario, he could come down with a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t offer your dog a few treats but you do need to be sensible. We suggest that you limit the Christmas extras to a quarter of your dog’s daily food intake. It is also important to avoid feeding your canine friend high fat items which may trigger pancreatitis.

The biggest hazard for your cats is that seasonal “beauty” – the Poinsettia. A new plant in the house is a great attraction for a cat – it is hard for him to resist having a nibble. Unfortunately, Poinsettia leaves contain toxins that can cause irritation in your cat’s mouth. He can develop mouth sores that make him drool and have difficulty swallowing. In extreme cases, Poinsettias can cause vomiting. The solution? Don’t bring a Poinsettia into your home if your cat is the nibbling type or provide him with an alternate way to get his “forage fix”. If he can’t get it by going outside, give him some cat grass (pick the seeds up at your local pet store).

When you set up your tree, do it with your dog and cat in mind. Over the years we’ve seen a few dogs with burns across their tongues from biting electrical cords. To prevent Rover from enjoying an electrifying chew toy, just make sure the cord is hidden.

Cats and tinsel DO NOT go together like birds of a feather. Felines love to play with shiny things so it isn’t surprising that tinsel draped over a tree branch is the perfect toy (at least they think so). When a cat chews on tinsel, his tongue barbs do a great job of pushing it to the back of his throat. The problem comes a few days later when the tinsel gets stuck in his intestines, causing vomiting, dehydration, and possibly death. If you have cats, don’t use tinsel – there are many safe alternatives for beautifying your tree.

Presents containing food should never be left under the tree unattended. Your pooch’s nose is at its finest this time of year. He can sniff out a box of chocolates at 10 paces and then consume the lot with great joy, blissfully indifferent to the consequences. You, however, should be aware of the toxic effects of chocolate ingestion – vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially fatal seizures. If you know a present contains chocolate or other edibles, put it in a closet where your dog can’t reach it.

Christmas spirits are a bad idea for your canine friends even though they may actually appear to like drinking them (cats are generally too smart to drink any). Alcohol, even in mall amounts, can cause liver damage. Just imagine the impact of a tip of scotch on a Teacup Poodle. Please be safe by being sensible!

The following webinar exemplifies the above advice, with a few examples to illustrate the points.

Merry Christmas to all, and do keep our four-legged friends safe and healthy this holiday season!


Dr. Louise Janes D.V.M. & Dr. Jeff Grognet D.V.M.

Mid-Isle Veterinary Hospital
5-161 Fern Road West
Qualicum Beach, BC
Tel (250) 752-8969
Mid-Isle Veterinary Hospital



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