Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season

christmas-treeThe holiday season is a joyous time of year that we all look forward to. But when it comes to our pets, it can also be a stressful and potentially dangerous season. With some planning and a little vigilance on our part, though, we can insure that Fido and Fluffy have a safe and happy holiday with the rest of the family.

Holiday Food – The family is gathered around a table filled with a bounty of great food like turkey or ham, stuffing, buttery rich potatoes, gravy, and more. As tempting as it may be to slip your pet a bite or two of the family feast, don’t do it. These rich fatty foods can lead to pancreatitis which can cause long term organ damage or death. Of course, never ever give your pet turkey bones. They can easily splinter causing intestinal blockage.  If you have a large pet that is prone to “counter surfing”, like our 95 pound plott hound Ace, make sure the turkey and all the fixings are kept safely out of reach.

Another potentially deadly foods to avoid:

Chocolate – That bit of cocoa goodness that we all enjoy can be lethal to our pets. Chocolate contains theobromine, a stimulate that is safe for humans, but not animals. A dog weighing less than 20 pounds can die from ingesting as little as .5 to 2 oz of unsweetened chocolate.

Avocado – Can cause vomiting and diarrhea

Grapes – They contain a toxin than can cause kidney damage

Mushrooms – They contain a variety of toxins that are lethal

Onions or Garlic – Both destroy red blood cells and can lead to anemia

Macadamia nuts – It only takes 6 of these to cause a dog’s heart rate to dramatically increase, leading to paralysis, vomiting, and death.

Pretty But Deadly – A Christmas tree is the centerpiece of holiday decorating in most homes, but it can be a holiday hazard for your pets.

  • It’s a good idea to hang breakable ornaments higher on the tree to eliminate any potential temptation. Cats in particular are attracted to shiny tinsel and ornaments that they think are toys.
  • Keep your tree watered, but make sure your pets don’t drink from it. Stagnant water harbors potentially dangerous bacteria and tree fertilizers or other products used to prolong the life of your tree can be poisonous to your pets.
  • Poinsettias and mistletoe add a splash of color to your holiday decorating, but if your pet nibbles on them they can cause nausea, vomiting, and possible death.
  • After all the presents are unwrapped, make sure to pick up an paper and ribbons. Ribbons in particular can be a hazard when they are swallowed.

The Deadliest Danger – According to research, over 10,000 pets die every year from ingesting antifreeze. Dogs and cats are both drawn to it because of the sweet taste. Ingesting even small amounts can cause brain damage, and kidney failure. Cats can easily ingest the toxin by licking their paws after walking through a puddle that has antifreeze in it. A few ounces can kill a 60 pound dog. Often death can occur within 72 hours. A pet that has ingested antifreeze may appear “drunk” and wobbly, become depressed, vomit, have seizures and eventually sink into a coma. If you see any of these symptoms in your pet act quickly!

Cold Weather Hazards – Snow and ice are just a part of living in this area during the winter months, but it can be especially hard on your pets. After a walk or even just time spent in the yard, be sure to wipe your pet’s paws off with a dry towel. This not only insure they stay comfortable, you’re also wiping off irritants like ice or salt.

Make It Stress Free – We all get into our comfortable routines and that includes our pets. During the holiday, if you have house guests, entertain frequently, or are gone more than usual, make sure to give your fur babies a little extra TLC. If your pet is especially shy or fearful of strangers, make a “safe place” for them where they can get away from things when they need to. If Fido is used to a walk at a certain time of day, try to keep that schedule, but if you can’t make sure you work in some form of exercise when you can.

This holiday season, take some time to “holiday proof” your home early. Avoid the rush!

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