ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — I can’t wait for Thanksgiving: family, turkey, pie and political football. Well, maybe for you and me. Keep a close eye on your pets. Tense body postures around visitors or startling at sudden noises, hiding, freezing with ears flattened, the head low and the tail tucked are important clues. Scared dogs may lick their lips and yawn. Stressed cats might over-groom.
Pets need a break from the action. Hide boxes for kitties and out-of the-way resting areas for dogs will allow them to sit out the dogmatic discussions. Food toys loaded with canned or dry food will focus a dog’s brain on natural foraging while you party hearty in the other room. Playing music designed just for dogs, called Through a Dog’s Ear, can promote a calmer emotional state.
Zylkene is a supplement that’s helpful for moderate anxiety. For longer periods, like the Christmas to New Year’s marathon, pets can take Zylkene every day until you’ve boxed up the mistletoe – which, by the way, is toxic if eaten. A fast acting anti-anxiety gel called Sileo can be given between a nervous dog’s lip and gum. Your veterinarian can also prescribe trazodone or gabapentin to reduce the heebie-jeebies of car travel or family overload starting a couple of days ahead of the wingding.
Don’t let your dog raid the Thanksgiving feast of roast beast. Surreptitious snacking on chocolate, grapes, onions, garlic and raisins should be avoided. If your pets have consumed these delicacies forget watchful waiting for vomiting, lethargy, or seizures. Pay attention to that small voice in the back of your head. The emergency hospital can derail a poisoning before it reaches a crisis.
Drinks with alcohol can be dangerous, especially for smaller pets. And those cannabis brownies and gummies? However we choose to blur the holidays, there is a responsibility to avoid risking intense fear on unsuspecting creatures. Keep mood-altering substances beyond the reach of children and pets. Finally, if you take Effexor for depression I know you’ll feel better but screw the cap on tight. Curious cats may dump the bottle and binge. Seriously. Have a safe holiday and remember Murphy’s Law.
Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog or a Facebook Live to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.