Holiday season


While the holidays are full of joy for the most part, they can present rare and unexpected dangers for our furry family members. Keys Weekly caught up with Dr. Mike Dunn of Keys Animal Hospital to talk about the threats to pets that owners need to keep in mind.

Don’t Kill Them With Kindness. “Make a rule: no ‘people food’ at all,” Dr. Dunn said, explaining that fatty and salty holiday foods are likely to cause pancreatitis in dogs. Chocolates are a known culprit, but the artificial sweeteners in cookies can also cause dogs’ bodies to produce too much insulin, causing their blood sugar levels to drop to dangerous levels and leading to collapse or seizures. For older animals going through their final holiday seasons, Dunn said this is especially critical to avoiding the tragically common Christmas Day euthanasias.
Read the piece. During the holidays, pets are surrounded by large crowds who don’t know their diet. Small “people food” treats given by well-meaning friends and relatives can quickly lead to overload. “Put your pet in its own room over the holidays,” Dunn suggested.
Throw away the garlands. “Along with cats, it’s the little Christmas toys, the glass ornaments, and especially the long, stringy garlands,” Dunn said. “It can swell and cut the intestine as it travels through the cat’s intestinal tract. I have to remove at least one foreign body from a cat every Christmas season. There’s a lot of stuff lying around the house and out of the tree, so the cat hunt begins.
Hide weed and booze. Intentional or not, Dunn said he sees quite a bit of marijuana and alcohol ingestion each holiday season. “Dogs love to eat grass for some reason,” he said. “Guests leave it out – or maybe it’s just a traditional Christmas present in the Keys.”
Protect them from plants. Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias are all plants to watch out for as potential ingestion hazards that can be very toxic to pets.

Looking to add a new member to the family? The holidays can be the perfect time while the kids are home from school. “We encourage a vacation home,” said Tiffany Dunsmore, director of development for the Florida Keys SPCA. “The good thing is that people are more at home and have time to spend getting their new pet acclimated.” Dunsmore added that while many want to give pets as gifts, she strongly encourages the whole family to meet a new pet before making
commitment. Small animals such as hamsters and
guinea pigs can also be excellent “starter pets”, and there
are available for adoption at SPCA shelters in Key West and Marathon.

Pet Adoption Sites
• Florida Keys SPCA – Marathon and Key West campuses, hours and addresses at
• Wonderful Animal Rescues – 99900 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo. 305-453-1315.
• Upper Keys Humane Society – 101617 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo. 305-451-3848.
• Humane Animal Care Coalition – 105951 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo. 305-451-0088.

Pet-friendly parties

Looking to take your four-legged family member along to enjoy the holidays? Check out some of these pet friendly events from Marathon to Key West.
Animal Photos with Santa and Doggy Beach Party: Sunday, December 5, 2-4 p.m., Courtyard by Marriott, 2146 Overseas Hwy., Marathon. Donations to Florida Keys SPCA.
Paw Parade and Holiday Bazaar: Saturday, December 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Higgs Dog Park, Higgs Beach, Key West. Join us for this family event with a holiday bazaar, animal parade, live music, Smooch-A-Pooch stall, photos with Santa and more!
Holiday time: Friday, December 17, 5-8 p.m., The Gates Hotel, 3820 N Roosevelt Blvd., Key West.

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