Winter 2011 Magazine

Holiday Hazards for Pets

Think of the holidays from your pet's perspective. New, exciting noises, lights, a tree in the living room, tinsel, ribbon, turkey leftovers in the trash can and many more elicit pleasures create a bonanza for your furry friends senses. But many of these delights are bad for our animals and some can even kill them.

Here are a few things we can do to ensure that everyone's holidays are happy and safe.

Keep regular daily routines. Fido needs his regular walks and Fluffy needs her litter box cleaned. Their daily needs haven't changed just because you are extra busy. Avoid any unexpected "presents" by sticking to your animals' regular schedule. If your pet has an accident, don't punish him for something that is your fault.

Paws off the decorations! Decking the halls may be fun but it's an accident waiting to happen for animals. Cats love bright, shiny trims and curling ribbon is the best. If your cat swallows ribbon, don't try to pull it out of her mouth because it can cut through the intestines. Call your veterinarian instead. Shimmering tinsel and small ornaments can block the digestive track if swallowed and can cause infinite problems for you and your animal.

Seasonal plants aren't salad. Mistletoe, poinsettia and holly may look tasty to your animals but they can cause severe digestive upset complete with nausea, vomiting, pain and diarrhea. Keep these plants out of your pet's reach.

Christmas tree dance. Have you ever seen a Christmas tree dance a jig? You will if your cat decides to climb it or the dog decides to go after a toy underneath it. And remember anything can look like a toy if it's on the floor. Anchor your tree to the ceiling or wall with a piece of nylon filament line. Putting unbreakable ornaments on the bottom third of the tree thwarts kitty curiosity when they take a slap at the twirling ornament within their reach. Saves you sweeping up a lot of broken glass, too.

Watch out for the candle! Burning candles add lovely scent and soft light to a room but lit candles and cat tails don't mix. Remember cats are curious so the candle might be tipped over starting a fire on Fluffy or the rug. If you use candles, make sure they are out of reach of your animals.

Don't drink the water. If you have a real Christmas tree, be sure the water in the tree stand is covered so animals can't drink it. Preservatives and pine needles are dangerous for cats and dogs.

Don't bite the electric cord. Hide the electric cords for the holiday lights under the tree skirt so playful kittens and puppies don't chomp down on them. Beyond blowing a fuse it can be harmful to the animal burning his mouth and giving him a shock.

Don't let the cat/dog out. Friends and family might not pay attention to where the animals are when they come through the front door with packages and good cheer. Be sure your pets have current, readable identification on their collar that includes your name, address and phone number or have a microchip in case they scoot through that open door.

There are treats and there are treats. Just like their human companions animals like a few extra goodies at the holidays. But be careful what kind of treats they are. Be sure you and your children don't feed cats and dogs human treats like chocolate, which can cause heart irregularities, seizures or even death, turkey or chicken bones, which may splinter and get stuck in furry throats, or alcohol. Dogs may be tempted by alcoholic drinks but it's not a good idea to let them drink it. It can cause alcohol poisoning resulting in a trip to the veterinary ER.

Quiet please! Animals can become stressed out with a lot of activity and noise. When this happens, they may act in unusual ways such as biting, howling or scratching, which they would never do ordinarily. If you see Fido or Fluffy is stressed, put them in a bedroom for quiet time. They will stay calm and guests won't have to worry about doing something wrong for the animal. It's a win/win solution.

Enjoy your holidays and let your animals enjoy theirs, too. A little thought ahead of time will save you and your fur friends a lot of anxiety.

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