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Keeping Pets Safe During the Holidays

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Keep your home safe for your pet this holiday season with the following holiday party and decorating tips:

  • Nicotine can be fatal to pets. If partygoers smoke or use tobacco and you don’t, your pets may be curious about the cigarettes or cigars. Be sure to provide ashtrays that can be placed out of pets’ reach. If ingested, tobacco products cause serious gastrointestinal symptoms, cardiac arrest or death.
  • Poisonous flowers, mistletoe and holly berries can cause serious stomach upset in your pets. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias, though somewhat toxic, are only mildly upsetting to dogs and cats. Most dangerous are lilies, which often are found in holiday floral arrangements. The seven most popular types of lilies have been reported to cause kidney failure in cats.
  • Small ornaments, especially balls and bells, are attractive to pets -- but deadly if consumed.  If they break, they can cause cuts to your pet’s mouth, throat and/or paws!
  • Ornament hangers and hooks, when ingested, may cause punctures, blockages and gastric distress. Ditto for rubber bands, staples, string, tacks and tape used to wrap packages or hang decorations.
  • Artificial snow, aluminum foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be poisonous and also obstruct the intestinal tract, causing severe gastrointestinal problems.
  • Forgo edible garlands and deadly tinsel that will attract pets but can cause blockages. Consider decorating the tree with ornaments labeled safe for animals.
  • Take a pass on bubbling Christmas lights and snow globes. The bubblers contain toxic methylene chloride, and snow globes often contain anti-freeze, which is fatal to pets.
  • Don’t eat the toys, please. Small parts from children’s new toys are targets for pets to chew and eat. Make sure to put children’s toys behind closed doors once gifts are opened.
  • Electrical cords present shock and tripping danger. String tree lights and then hide the connecting cords under the tree skirt or tape them down to help prevent shocks, burns or more serious injuries. Even a well-behaved pet could trip on an errant electrical cord and take down the entire tree!
  • Secure the Christmas tree. Anchor it to the floor with weights and run fishing line from the top ofthe tree to the ceiling. This will help it remain upright, and also keep curious pets from knocking it over.
  • Beware of pets drinking Christmas tree water. Never add poisonous fertilizers to the water. And, change it regularly, not only to keep the tree fresh, but also to avoid dangerous bacterial build-up. Never let pets drink Christmas tree water! Consider using a decorative fencing around the tree to keep pets away.
  • Don’t leave burning candles within pets’ reach. Pets can knock over a burning candle and spark a fire. Candles also can singe curious noses and paws. Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Reduce pets’ stress when entertaining guests. Move pets to a quiet room or indoor kennel away from the action, and with their favorite bedding and toys. This will also eliminate potential escape through doors left open by guests who are not accustomed to having pets in the home.  It can also prevent fighting among pets who usually get along but might become competitive over attention. You will have a more relaxing, enjoyable time when not worrying about your pets’ whereabouts and safety.

Finally …

  • Keep contact information for your veterinarian and the nearest emergency veterinary clinic readily available!
  • Call or visit the veterinarian immediately at the first signs of injury or illness. You can use a pet first-aid kit to treat minor injuries, so be sure you have one on hand.
  • Remember that by protecting pets from holiday hazards, everyone in your family will enjoy a happy, healthy season.

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