The holidays are a wonderful time of year filled with festive parties, glittering decorations, and good times with friends and family. If you have pets, though, this can be particularly dangerous time of year for them.
Here are 10 safety tips for keeping your pets happy and healthy this holiday season.
1. If you have a live Christmas tree, make sure your pets do not drink the water in the tree stand. These trees are heavily treated with pesticides and preservatives which leach into the water and can make your pet very sick. It's also a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria. Cover the tree stand with the tree skirt or anything that will block your pet from getting to the water. Be sure your pet has plenty of fresh water of her own so the tree water is less attractive.
2. Shiny ornaments are a huge temptation for cats and many dogs. Hang the breakable ones higher on the tree or use only non-breakable decorations. Broken ornaments and hooks can be extremly dangerous if ingested and, at the very least, can cut your pet's mouth or tongue. Avoid "edible" ornaments like popcorn, candy canes, cookies. They are all harmful temptations that your pet may not be able to resist.
3. Remember that mistletoe and poinsettia plants are poisonous and should be placed out of reach of pets as well as children.
4. The lights on a tree are beautiful, just make sure to keep your pets away from the electrical cords, especially if they are "chewers". You can also spray the cords with Bitter Apple or Chew Stop.
5. Don't be tempted to give Fluffy or Rex "treats" from your holiday table. Rich, fatty foods can cause upset stomachs for sure, but they can also lead to more serious conditions like pancreatitis which is often serious enough to require hospitalization. A number of foods are highly toxic to dogs and cats including chocolate, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and others. There are plenty of websites where you can get a complete list but the best bet is to stick to the regular dog or cat food that you serve every other day of the year.
6. That potpourri that makes your home smell so great has oils that are toxic to dogs if ingested. Dogs are attracted to sweet things so make sure those dishes of dried potpourri and the oils you burn are well out of reach.
7. When the presents are all opened, make sure to pick up all the ribbon and strings. They are easily chewed and can cause intestinal obstruction which can lead to death.
8. If you have a holiday party, clean up any unfinished alcoholic drinks that may be sitting around. The sweet smell and taste of many drinks are quite attractive to dogs but with harmful effects if consumed.
9. Be sure to properly dispose of things like poultry bones and the juice soaked strings that may have tied up that holiday beef roast. Poultry bones are soft and will splinter if chewed and that string can be cause intestinal obstruction which can be fatal.
10. If there is a present under the tree with your pet's name on it, examine it before turning it over to your dog or cat. Make sure there are no small pieces that could be ingested. Squeaky toys may be cute, but not if the outside of the toy can be easily chewed apart. Some pets will make short order of chewing certain toys to pieces then swallowing the squeaker, causing intestinal obstructions.
Lastly, don't give a pet as a gift. The hectic holiday season is not the time to introduce a new pet to the family. Instead wrap up a plush toy with an IOU and a promise to go pick out the real thing after the holidays are over and things are back to normal. Consider starting your search at your local Humane Society or SPCA. Or contact an animal rescue group in your area. You can also find your new best friend online at PetFinder.com which features thousands of adoptable pets from rescue organizations across the country.
Merry Christmas from the Clay Team! Robert, Carol, Ace, and Sunny
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