By Dr. Becker
The holidays are upon us, and as I do each year, I'd like to take a few moments to remind pet owners to stay alert for seasonal hazards.
Nothing can ruin a holiday and make it a painful memory for years to come like an accident that injures or takes the life of a precious pet.
A quick review of the following list can avert disaster for your dog or cat, so I encourage everyone reading here today to take this brief 'refresher course' in keeping your pet safe throughout the holiday season.
10 Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe During the Hectic Holiday Season
- Secure your Christmas tree by screwing a hook into the wall or ceiling and running string or fishing line around the tree trunk and fastened to the hook.
This will anchor your tree and prevent it from being tipped or pulled over by a curious cat or a rambunctious dog.
It will also keep water at the base of the tree from spilling. Stagnant tree water can harbor bacteria and isn't something your pet should be drinking, so make sure it isn't easily accessible.
- Place electrical cords, wires and batteries out of your pet’s reach to prevent a potentially deadly electrical shock or burns from a punctured battery.
- Especially if you are owned by a cat, skip the tinsel. It’s a real temptation for kitties because it’s sparkly and fun to bat around. But ingestion of tinsel can obstruct your pet’s GI tract and bring on vomiting. Vomiting causes dehydration. And if the situation is dire, surgery could be required to remove the tangle of tinsel inside your pet and repair any damage.
Also forego breakable tree ornaments. Glass shards can injure pet paws, mouths, and can be very dangerous if swallowed.
- Candles are very popular holiday décor, but make sure to never leave lighted candles unattended. Use appropriate holders that prevent candles from being knocked over by curious pets. Take care when using scented candles, especially the food-scented variety, that the smell doesn’t encourage your dog or cat to sample the goods. Candle wax isn’t species-appropriate nutrition for your pet!
- Pets and sweets don’t mix, so make sure your dog or cat has zero access to holiday goodies like candy, cookies, chocolate and other sugary foods, including any food that is artificially sweetened.
And to be on the very safe side, also prevent your pet from counter surfing in the kitchen, sniffing the table at meal time, and nosing around in the garbage. Believe it or not, there's a long list of people foods that are toxic to pets, so don't even chance it.
- Beverages should also be kept out of your pet’s reach. Beer, wine and liquor can make your dog or cat quite ill, and can even be life threatening.
- It’s also a good idea to keep pets separated from tipsy guests. So if the party is getting lively, it’s your cue to tuck your four-legged family member away in a safe, quiet location of the house.
- Provide your pet with a quiet place to retreat during holiday festivities. Dogs and especially cats get overwhelmed and over-stimulated just like kids do. Make sure your companion has her own out-of-the-way spot stocked with fresh water, a few treats and toys, and comfy bedding to snuggle up in.
New Year's celebrations can be a special problem for pets, so keep yours a safe distance from confetti, streamers, noise makers and other dangers.
- Resist the irresistible -- those cute and colorful pet toys and stocking stuffers that show up on store displays this time of year. No matter how adorable that stuffed dog toy is, chances are some part of it will wind up inside your pooch. Stick with safe, healthy dog gifts like all-natural dental bones, yummy high-protein treats, and stimulating puzzle toys.
If there's a cat on your Christmas gift list, go for toys that stimulate his hunting instincts or how about a new scratching surface? You can also consider a toy that allows you to interact with him and gives him some exercise at the same time, like a laser beam toy or a feather teaser like Da Bird.
- Did you know many holiday plants and flowers are highly toxic for dogs and cats? Holly is one. So are many varieties of the lily. Mistletoe is a no-no, as are poinsettias. Take a pass on live holiday plants and opt for silk or plastic greenery instead.
In addition to these tips, it's also very important for your pet's health and stress level to maintain her normal daily routine during the holidays.
Happy holidays to you and your pet!