A Pet-Friendly Holiday Season 2

Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe and Altered Tails’ Lasting Legacy

The holiday season means abundance, especially when it comes to gifting and feasting. For our furry friends, this can mean begging for scraps or being welcomed into a new home as a holiday gift. Whatever the case, keeping pets safe and healthy during the holiday season is essential.

Dr. Robert Trupp is a veterinarian at North Scottsdale Animal Hospital. He and his family are pet owners themselves, and as an animal doctor, he sees a variety of issues this time of year.

“Stomach unrest is the most common problem we tend to see at holiday time. The fats and high proteins in the table food we consume during Thanksgiving can cause pancreatitis,” he says.

His easy tip: dispose of all food scraps, bones, fat trimmings and drippings in an inaccessible spot for pets.

“We had a dog come into the hospital the day after Thanksgiving, and after X-rays, it was evident that the dog had been eating rocks. It was revealed that the owners had poured excess turkey drippings outside on the gravel. With the rocks now smelling and tasting of turkey, the dog ate the rocks. He is rock-free after surgery to remove them, but that could’ve been avoided.”

The GI tract and pancreas are the main areas of concern in pets when taste testing human food. Many foods we eat during the holidays can cause serious illness to our pets, even if they seem like safe choices.

“Animal fat is a danger, so trim the fat and gristle from the turkey before offering your pet a bite. Bones can cause choking or lodge in the intestinal tract, and no sauces or gravy are recommended as they are very high in sodium and/or sugars. Of course, absolutely no alcohol or chocolate. If you think your pet is sick from table food, please visit us for an evaluation. We are always here to help.”

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The Perfect Pet-Friendly Feast

“The entire meal should fit in the palm of your hand. The food is richer than what they are normally used to, so it is best to enjoy in moderation.” – Dr. Robert Trupp

Entree: Unseasoned turkey or ham, (remove any skin and skip the gravy)

Side: Small potato or sweet potato (served cooked, diced up or mashed before the butter, eggs and milk are added)

Dessert: Small scoop of pumpkin pie filling


Carrying on a legacy of keeping pets from facing euthanasia is a passion project for Dick Barnhart, co-chairman of Altered Tails.

“Altered Tails was my wife Bea’s baby. She wanted people to know that while adoption is wonderful, spaying and neutering is essential. Pet overpopulation leads to euthanasia, and that epidemic is what Bea took seriously,” Dick says.

What started with a woman spaying and neutering from her garage led to a vision of mobile and now brick-and-mortar clinics that offer low-cost spay and neuter surgery to end pet overpopulation.

“We made a meaningful contribution when we decided to pour ourselves into Altered Tails,” he says. “We are also grateful to our sponsors, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and Petsmart Charities, for seeing the good we were doing and coming aboard.”

Bea’s passion for animals has spurred this large nonprofit organization with multiple freestanding state-of-the-art surgery facilities that sterilize more than 20,000 pets each year. Altered Tails has reduced the intake at local shelters by 40 percent and the euthanasia of dogs and cats by 86 percent since 2012.

“Spaying and neutering can be expensive, but Altered Tails offers these services at a 75 percent savings compared to traditional services,” Dick says.

On June 29, Bea passed away, and her family wants to ensure the longevity of Altered Tails and give Valley residents, regardless of their financial status, access to quality, affordable services for their pets.

“Bea got to see things become successful, and that was so satisfying for her. My responsibility to my marvelous wife is that Altered Tails continues. We have wonderful people working with us, and my granddaughter has taken on a leadership role, so we feel we have a long road ahead in helping keep pets safe and alive,” he says.