This picture was posted on my practice manager’s door this past week.

She and I are in the same boat; we both adopted a pair of kittens.

We are finding the holiday season a challenge with our new family members.  Everything sparkly, shiny, crinkly, and ringing or dinging has their attention.  My kittens have been temporarily renamed Shredder and Wrecking Ball.

I have counseled countless owners about the dangers of toys, socks, underwear, string, fishing line, corncobs, and jewelry.  When our pets eat them and they get stuck, veterinarians call these foreign bodies.  Foreign body surgery is expensive, fraught with risk, and in theory; completely preventable.

However, having kittens living in my house now, this has become a real worry for me.  Everything they play with eventually goes in their mouth.  A recent article published statistics on age and breed related incidence of foreign body surgeries in cats and dogs.behavior

The article reported that puppies were, of course, the most common patient to undergo a foreign body surgery.  The dog breeds most often needing foreign body surgery were (in the descending order) Pit bulls, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, and German Shepherd Dogs.

But, to my horror, the article reported young cats ages 1-3 years are TWICE as likely as kittens to need surgery .  Oh no!  And the article also reported that foreign body surgeries were necessary in every age cat and dog.

Time to batten down the hatches.

I have acquired the habit of shutting doors; preventing access to sewing and craft supplies; plastic wrap and cleaning supplies, and storage areas.

I invested in some food toys for my little feline;  these keep them entertained for hours and help dispel some of that predatory drive.  There are a multitude of food toys also available for dogs as well; you can even DIY less expensive versions of the commercial options.  Take care to use common sense with food toys and follow safe chewing guidelines , avoid any that may become potential foreign bodies themselves!

Keeping track of my pets keeps them safe.   We confine the kittens to “safe” areas when we are not able to observe them, and collars with bells allow us to track their movements.  With dogs, bells or jingling collars can let you where Rover is sneaking off too, and simply leaving a leash on a puppy can be extremely helpful in keeping track of them; leaving a leash on can speed up overall training as well.  Do not leave a leash on a dog that is unobserved.  Teaching your canine companion to be comfortable in a crate is a great way to keep your pet safe, and is an important life skill for traveling, being kenneled, etc.

Last, but not least, I have invested in pet insurance for my little furry wrecking crew.  Pet insurance is available through many carriers; our practice recommends Trupanion and Pet Plan.  Pet insurance is a very good investment for young animals, and is relatively inexpensive.

Written by: Rachel Francis, DVM

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