Top 5 Tips for Holiday-Proofing the RVT

Submitted by Shannon McCallion, RVT & SAVT Financial Officer

Typically, at this time of the year, we are inundated with blogs and posts about holiday-proofing for our pets.   They, unfortunately, are necessary; we are all familiar with the “He got into the chocolate/turkey/cookies/garbage” or the “she looked so cute playing with the tinsel/ribbon/ornament” preceding the emergency apomorphine and charcoal treatment or the emergency surgery.   So, here is another list, with a twist – I’m calling it the TOP 5 TIPS FOR HOLIDAY-PROOFING THE RVT. 

  1. Let’s just start with the obvious one.  Chocolate.  “I can resist anything except temptation”.  Mr. Wilde must have been talking about a veterinary clinic around December -it is everywhere!  All those ‘just a little something to say thanks’ baking and treats from clients and vendors just keep coming!  There is chocolate everywhere you turn.   Even the staunchest ‘you can never have too much chocolate’ lover can get sick this time of year.  The toxic dosage of theobromine for humans is 1,000mg/kg of body weight, but ingest sufficient amounts of cocoa and you may find yourself with sweating, trembling and severe headaches, while all that fat and sugar can lead to diarrhea, weight gain and tears.  Try to eat at least one balanced meal a day.  And no, that doesn’t mean chocolate in both hands!  And while chocolate comes from cacao, a tree, making it plant material, it does not qualify as a salad.
  2. Inclement Weather.  While you are not likely to be going on many road trips during this pandemic, even a short errand run can be hazardous if you aren’t properly prepared.  Everyone in the vehicle should be dressed for the weather.  Wear your boots, even if they make you walk funny.  Put winter tires on the vehicle, keep the gas tank full, and carry an emergency kit that includes water.  It’s important to hydrate before you go outside; eating snow never provides enough hydration, and there is always the risk of the hidden yellow stuff! 
  3. Physical Exercise.  One of the easiest things to do to stay healthy this holiday season is to take a daily walk.  It helps to reduce stress, digest food and promote peristalsis, burn off extra calories and it gives you an excuse to get out of the house without breaking the social distancing rules or the wallet.  Or try tobogganing, skating or cross-country skiing.  And the mask helps to keep your nostrils from freezing together!
  4. Stress.  The ‘happiest time of the year’ paradoxically, can be the most stressful.  While the pandemic reduces the number of social events to attend and restricts the number of people invading your territory, even the presence of your family can get to be too much when it is constant.  Add the pressures of decorating, baking, shopping for presents and connecting with family, all while social distancing and it’s understandable that you might want to slink away and hide.  Make sure you have a quiet place to retreat to for a bit, just for you.  If all else fails, lock yourself in the car with some of that chocolate and tell your family you are checking the theobromine content in case of a toxic overdose!
  5. FUN.  Probably the single most important thing to remember this season, and where we can truly learn from our furry, four-legged family members, it that there is ALWAYS time for fun.  And anything can be fun and provide joy if you approach it with an open heart and endless curiosity.  So, take a cue from the smartest family members: stick your head out the car window and embrace the weather, say a happy hello to everyone you pass, roll around in the snow for a while, then curl up in the warm spot with your favourite people and give yourself a well-deserved treat.  The true spirit of the holiday season is found in our relationships and the time spent with those we truly love.
Shannon McCallion, RVT

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