Your pet’s health and medications during the holidays

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Your pet’s health and medications during the holidays - A dog and cat cuddled up on a pillow in front of a Christmas tree

During the holidays we spend time with family, friends, and our pets. As an attentive pet parent, enjoying the holidays with your family pets might include managing your pet’s health and medications, caring for your senior pets, and being prepared for all the potential pet emergencies that can happen during the holiday festivities.

As friends and family come together for the holidays, pet parents also have their pets to consider. With all the hustle and bustle, our furry friends may sometimes pick up on our stress and excitement. We may have house guests coming and going, dinner parties, and special plans in mind, which can distract us from remembering the smallest details around pet care over the holidays.

If your pets require special care or have medication requirements, it’s important to ensure that you have their prescription meds and any over-the-counter (OTC) medications that you might need during the holidays. Busy holiday schedules, vet closures, and reduced hours can make shopping for pet medications in-store or picking them up at the vet clinic or pharmacy challenging this time of year.

Holiday travel with your pet

Traveling with your pet can be stressful, especially if they are not good travelers. If you do have a road trip planned, it’s important to be prepared. Your pet’s travel bag should be packed with everything they need, including food, treats, water, disposable bags, favorite blanket, medications, and more.

You never know when your dog might have an upset stomach or your cat is going to experience motion sickness. Talk to your vet about options to help with these symptoms, including calming treats, sprays, and clothing. If you think your dog or cat will get a bit restless in the vehicle, a safe, soothing remedy for your journey might be appropriate. Always consult a veterinarian before administering medications and other over-the-counter products to pets. Never give human medications to pets without a veterinarian’s approval.

Holiday parties with your pet

Pets can make family gatherings fun, if a little chaotic. There is a certain etiquette when adding our furry friends to the party list, whether you are the guests or hosting in your home. If your family pet is unfamiliar with being around other dogs or cats, it might be best to leave them at home. If you're hosting, give them a safe place to retreat away from the noise and unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. “Some of your guests might not think about pet-proofing their belongings, and this can lead to accidents,” says Vetster veterinarian Dr. Jo Myers. “Curious pets can easily find sugar-free gum, medications, and other hazardous items in coat pockets or purses, so be sure your visitors keep everything out of reach.” Even when bringing your pets to places they are familiar with, being aware of your animal's surroundings is the best way to keep them happy and safe.

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During the holiday meal, it’s almost unavoidable that someone somewhere will sneak your pet some people food. If your pet is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, these may be signs that they got into some of the table scraps from the holiday meal.  In most scenarios, small amounts of people's food can be fine, but larger quantities of specific foods may be more dangerous. Many pets end up in the emergency room over the holidays with severe GI symptoms from too many rich treats, so do your best to be vigilant and ask your guests to respect your pet’s dietary restrictions.

If you suspect your pet ingested something they shouldn’t have and seems ill or uncomfortable, contact ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, available 24 hours, 365 days a year, for next steps.

Help calm your pet while you’re away

With all of the holiday excitement for your pet, especially in new places with new people, they may need extra care. It can be helpful to give them a calming treat before joining the festivities. A vet can help you determine if calming medication may also be helpful when leaving nervous pets at home to avoid distraught animals while you’re away.

Senior pets during the holidays

Senior pets are a part of the family, and they have been with us through many holiday seasons. Exercise in moderation is good for our aging pets. If you’ve noticed the family dog or cat is slowing down a bit, it might be arthritis. Changes in weight or appetite are also common in elderly pets, and should not be ignored as a part of normal aging. Consult with your veterinarian to properly diagnose your senior pet.

Conditions and routine medications

Whether you’re staying home or traveling this season, be sure to have all of your pet’s prescription medications, vitamins, minerals, or other supplements on hand. As pet parents, we want to be prepared for chronic issues that may arise, such as ear or eye infections, allergies, and respiratory conditions.

OTC medications and prescription meds can be purchased online, making pet health maintenance more convenient for you and your furry friend. Always consult a veterinarian before administering medication and other products with active ingredients to pets.

You might also want to consider keeping a home test kit on hand so you can start diagnostics as soon as possible once symptoms are noted. A little bit of planning ahead can save you unneeded stress if your four-legged companion starts to feel a bit under the weather.

Be prepared for your pet

As we enjoy the holiday season and spend time with family and friends, rest assured you have prepared to care for your pet and maintain its health now and throughout the year. If you have questions about what pet medications to have on deck for specific medical conditions, you can meet a vet virtually to discuss and plan ahead from the convenience of home.

Most vet clinics have reduced hours over the holidays, emergency clinics tend to get busy, and your regular veterinarian may be unavailable. If you’re traveling, you may not be familiar with the veterinary clinics in the area. Have no fear! Online vets are here to help cover these gaps so you can rest easy this holiday season. Virtual care is available 24/7, 365 days a year at Vetster. Sign up for free today and give yourself the gift of peace of mind this holiday season.

FAQ - Your pet’s health and medications during the holidays

What can I do for my dog’s motion sickness over the holidays?

Dogs, and most especially puppies, commonly experience motion sickness on car rides, which often results in vomiting, lethargy, or restlessness. The good news is there are treatments available. Many times, as your puppy gets used to going on car rides, the likelihood of motion sickness decreases as they become desensitized to the motion sensation. If your puppy doesn’t grow out of it, consult your veterinarian. There are medications available to reduce the symptoms of motion sickness.

Are OTC medications safe for my pet?

Most OTC medications for humans, and even those formulated specifically for animals, can be dangerous for animals if they are not administered properly with veterinary guidance. Always consult with a veterinarian before giving your pet medications of any kind.

Can I get prescription medication for my pet without going to the vet?

Prescriptions by definition require a veterinarian to assess the patient before offering the medication as a treatment option. In many regions it is permitted for this assessment to take place in a virtual appointment. If you are traveling during the holidays or are otherwise unable to visit your regular veterinarian, you can book an online virtual care appointment with a Vetster veterinarian regardless of where you are. You may receive a prescription at the discretion of the veterinarian and where allowed by law.