The memes have started: pancreatitis- turkey bone- foreign body removal- chocolate toxicity. It’s how we know the holiday season is upon us. Of course these memes are funny, because they are true. During the holidays, we see an increase in vomiting, diarrhea, garbage gut, chocolate toxicity, HBC, BDLD -- you name it. But more disturbing to me is the increase in eye-rolling that I also see more of during the holidays.
The battle cry of the veterinary team seems to be, “THEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER!” Why don’t people just KNOW that the turkey drippings are bad? Why don’t they KNOW that if they put the turkey carcass (or ham bone or rib bones or whatever deliciousness you eat to celebrate your particular holiday) in the garbage (even just for a little bit while we all eat pie) that the dog will certainly eat it? Why don’t they KNOW that cats chew light cords and eat shiny things, ribbons, and plants? Why don’t they KNOW that dogs drink tree water poisoned with chemicals?
Instead of asking why our clients don’t know these things, we should be asking ourselves “why didn’t we teach them?” It’s difficult for veterinary professionals to remember a time when we didn’t know that onions are garlic are bad for pets, or that beef and pork bones don’t always just pass on through, or that making a heaping plate of Thanksgiving food for the dog maybe isn’t the best idea. But we, at one point, were all there. Let’s remember that when we talk to our clients over the next few weeks. Let’s bring up common toxins during wellness exams. Let’s talk about obesity and how a tiny piece (to us) of cheese is like eating an entire block of cheese to a shih tzu. Let’s warn people that guests sometimes leave the front door or the back gate open, or allow not-so-friendly dogs to chase cats. Let’s search for the amazing infographics that list what you CAN feed your pet on Thanksgiving because, come on now, we all want to include our pets in our holidays. Let’s not judge that client (both in the exam room and when you’re placing the catheter in their vomiting dog) who had a moment of weakness regarding turkey skin and a miniature schnauzer.
As veterinary professionals, we are big fans of preventive care. We talk heartworms, internal parasites, external parasites, retroviruses, and vaccines to all of our clients. Let’s continue that proactive stance when it comes to these big holidays where we know we’ll have an increase in pet illness. Use social media, use email, use reminders on invoices, use the hold music on your phone system to talk about preventing holiday disasters. As for me? Maybe someone needs to make an infographic for me about safe quantities of pumpkin pie consumption because that stuff is AWESOME.