Pet experts advise avoiding table scraps

Animal Shelters are issuing warnings intended to keep local pets safe as the holidays unfold.

Chula Vista Animal Care Facility Supervisor Ashley Milo said prevention is key, from being cautious about food to making wise traveling choices.

“Don’t feed your pet table scraps— seasonings, spices, and many common foods are not safe for pets. If you want to provide any treats you can feed very small amounts green beans, peas and skinless, unseasoned white meat turkey. Dessert and bones are off limits,” Milo said.

Although people tend to stuff themselves full during holiday meals, she said, the same approach is not safe for pets as they can develop pancreatitis and require veterinary care.
San Diego Humane Society Director of Public Relations Nina Thompson said simply reminding guests to avoid sharing food with pets is wise, however they also suggest also preparing a few snack bags in advance with pet treats so friends and family have something safe to hand off to pets. Pet owners who are entertaining guests should feed animals special treats at their usual bowl rather than the table to prevent future begging.
SDHS also advises pet owners to consider buying a treat-dispensing chew for dogs to gnaw on or a new catnip mouse for kitties to provide activity and distract from holiday meals.
Sticking to a normal walking and feeding schedule, even while on vacation, Milo said, can reduce pet stress.

“Stress can look different in dogs and cats— in cats, we tend to see them hide while dogs may retreat to a safe space away from everyone, but also display cues like yawning, shaking like they’re shivering, pacing, licking their lips and whining,” Milo said.

Allowing cats to hide is key, she said but all animals should be given a comfortable space with toys and bedding.

“It is best to let pets approach when they want attention,” Milo said.

Pet owners traveling with potentially nervous furry friends should run through a few practice sessions before embarking on a full trip, and make sure to provide treats to keep the learning situation positive. When it comes time to travel, pets should be wearing a collar tagged with current contact information and ideally have been microchipped in case they go missing. Milo also suggested pet owners snap a current photo to have on hand.

“If you’re driving, try playing soothing music and keeping the temperature in the car comfortable for your pets.

Keep in mind cats do not travel well as they are inclined to extreme stress when changing environments and it is generally best to keep them home with a pet sitter,” Milo said.

When owners reach their final destination, they should allow pets time to sniff and roam before interacting with anyone, Milo said and once inside, pets should be given a quiet space with their favorite, familiar belongings to reduce stress.

She suggested pet owners take extra care to keep plants and décor out of animal reach when visiting friends and family as “mini-decorative pumpkins, lilies, poinsettias and holly are common for decorating and may appeal to many pets, but they could end up with tummy troubles” or worse.

If pet owners suspect their furry friend got into something dangerous, Milo said, Pet Emergency Specialty Center in Chula Vista and in La Mesa are usually open as well as VCA Emergency in South San Diego.