Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and then not long it will be Christmas and Hanukah and then the New Year! It’s a good time to write up some holiday safety tips and advice for you and your pets.
Thanksgiving is all about the food and treats! Beware of some of the toxic foods your pet should not get into (such as grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, chocolate, candies sweetened with xylitol, or alcohol) and also keep a tight lid on the garbage. The twine that holds the turkey legs together is tasty after it has been basted in that turkey juice and can cause an obstruction. Fatty grease or trimmings can trigger stomach upset or pancreatitis. And the extra calories your pet might consume are not good for them, so resist the urge to share!
The Christmas tree can pose several hazards. Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe, so keep them away. Watch out for tinsel. Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching "toy" that's easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It's best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel. Flocking can be mildly toxic, as well as needles from the tree.
Want to get a special treat for your precious pet for Christmas? Look for toys and treats that are safe. Avoid really hard chew toys for dogs, as they can break teeth. Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallow the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with healthy treats in moderation or rubber toys that are hard to tear apart; Kongs can be stuffed with healthy foods or offer chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. Long, stringy things are a feline's dream, but the risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that's too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer—and tons of play sessions together.
Forget the mistletoe & holly. Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet. Poinsettia can also cause stomach upset.
Don't leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!
Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth.
Thinking of giving a new pet as a gift this holiday season? Think it through well before deciding. A pet isn’t a casual gift; it is one that comes with a lifetime of love and responsibility. It is best to never give a pet as a gift. If it is the right time to get a new pet for yourself, consider adopting from a local animal shelter rather than purchasing from a pet store or breeder.
Holidays are often time for visitors to arrive. Some pets love visitors and behave very well. Others may be fearful or aggressive. Some puppies may urinate when meeting people. Still, others may be too full of holiday cheer and over-exuberant. Plan for how your dog will react to visitors. Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.
Brushing up on obedience training before the holidays may help a dog who has become a little rusty. Be sure to inform your visitors of any household 'rules' or problem behaviors concerning your pets, e.g., sneaking out the door, jumping up on the couch, getting food from the table, etc.
For dogs who may not behave or could be aggressive, placing them in a separate room, using pet gates or having them stay at a friend's house during a party may be necessary. Sometimes, boarding a dog in a kennel may be the safest alternative.
Cleaning products such as disinfectants get a lot of use during the holidays as we spiff up our homes for visitors. Remember, many of these products can be toxic to your pets.
When inviting visitors, make sure they know you have a pet. If these people have allergies, you could help them by using a product such as Allerpet to decrease the dander in the house.
If you are traveling during the holidays and need to leave your pets at home, start to make accommodations for your pets early. Many boarding facilities fill up very fast. Responsible pet sitters are a good alternative. If they are unfamiliar with your house or pets have them come over and get acquainted before you leave.
New Years can be a noisy time. As you count down to the New Year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat's intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. Again, beware of the cocktails and alcohol which can be toxic.
The holidays are both a wonderful and a stressful time. The constant stream of visitors, parties and travelling can take a toll on both you and your pet. Make sure to spend quality time alone with your pet every day. This will allow you to observe your pet for any unusual behavior or symptoms, as well as to enjoy the tranquility the season can bring. Happy Holidays!
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