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By Dr. Steve Surujbally

AS you read this, the Festive Season and the New Year are just around the proverbial corner. Therefore, today we will advise on what not to do to pets during the Festive and post-Festive Seasons.
Actually, there are many who see Christmas and the immediate post-Christmas period as a bacchanalian rite and a heathen splurge that have nothing to do with the birth of Christ; such persons feel that prayer and meditation should be the order of the day. The pets of this latter category fall on lean times during this period. Let’s look at some of the “No – No’s” during the Festive Season, as they relate to pets.

It seems that many humans have this fixation with overstuffing themselves before, during and immediately after the Festive Season. It often follows that such pet owners feel that their wards must also gorge themselves full with huge quantities of food (or residues therefrom).
Well, that is wrong. Dogs and cats couldn’t care less if there is no boxing on Boxing Day and no garlic pork/beef on Christmas Day. They would be just as happy if they received their usual bland fare.
I’ll share with you something of interest that I was taught at a Refresher Course/Further Education Series at which I participated some time ago. The lecturers advised us that over 50 percent of all ailments among pets stem from incorrect nutrition. Well, that figure must be 80 percent around the Christmas period. The problem is that the vet (who is also human and who wishes to spend prime time with his/her family) has to prise himself/herself from a favourite chair/recliner to look after a pet which has just developed a (to the owner) “life-threatening” malady, which is, in truth, just a reaction (vomiting?) to a piece of chocolate, or plain bellyache from over-engorgement, or some such incorrect bit of feeding.
Of course, since no veterinarian (well, with some few expectations) can tell the flustered client to go to hell on Christmas Day, he/she has to deal with the product of the owner’s careless feeding of the pet(s). In all likelihood, the stomach pain will soon subside, but the pet owners cannot be consoled (at least not over the phone); they must see the vet.

Last week, we dealt at length with this bit of inhumane wretchedness. However, since this example of barbarism is so pervasive at Christmas and at other celebratory activities, we feel that it is worthy of repetition to again mention that the selling, purchase and using of squibs and other explosive devices to terrorise animals (and humans) is illegal and extremely hurtful and harmful to creatures great and small.

Generally speaking, dogs should not be bathed often. Cats (who groom themselves constantly) hardly ever (like never!) need baths — unless, of course, if they fall into a filthy gutter or cesspit. I will deal with this non-need for pet bathing on another occasion.
It seems that pet owners, having totally cleaned up their homes for Christmas, feel compelled to remain in the cleaning mode/mood. Consequently, the cleaning frenzy is on! “Rover”, the dog and “Felix” the cat get dunked into the big basin or drum of water, or they are shoved — kicking, screaming, growling, hissing and biting — under the standpipe in the yard. Of course, getting the dog/cat dry might morph into a special difficulty — especially during the December rains. The problem becomes worse if the animal is placed in a room with a draught. A “cold” might result.

If a pet-owner has this fixation to clean the pet’s coat, just comb and brush it. The brushing stimulates the blood circulation under the skin. More nutrients are brought into the area of the hairs’ roots. The hairs (fur) become stronger and glossier — especially since you are not (via baths) washing away natural oils that are on the skin.

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