Holiday Safety Tips from Yours Truly

As many pet owners know by now, there are countless holiday hazards that will keep you awake at night. The friendly people at CAPS don’t want the endless, disastrous scenarios to dampen your Christmas spirit. Take these necessary precautions and you’ll have one less thing to worry about during the upcoming, winter festivities.

*Magic words: hazard, keep away from, keep an eye on, make sure, may cause

- Keep chocolate out of Fido’s reach. Although yummy for humans, this sweet treat contains theobromine, which is toxic to some animals. According to About.com, it can cause “nausea and vomiting, restlessness, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and increased urination or incontinence.”
- Check twice before giving poultry to your pet. The scrumptious piece of turkey or chicken may contain well-hidden bones, becoming a chocking hazard. Also, make sure it’s well-done, raw poultry is a breeding ground for salmonella bacteria.
- ‘Tis the season to gain weight and so can your pet. Stick to your pet’s regular diet. A treat here and there is OK, but don’t overdo it. Overindulging may lead to an upset tummy, diarrhea, or even pancreatitis, an inflammatory condition of the pancreas.
- Although poinsettias and mistletoe are a staple of Christmas tradition, they can be harmful to your pet. All species of lilies should be kept out of reach, they are extremely toxic as well (especially to cats).
- Avoid tinsel: it’s a chocking hazard.
- Christmas candles smell fantastic, especially the peppermint ones, but they can also lead to singed hair- not something to look forward to.
- This one is a no-brainer, but try keeping glass ornaments out of reach (ouch!). The same goes for angel hair, garlands, Christmas lights, and ornaments with hooks.
- Make sure Christmas tree water doesn’t become your pet’s water bowl, especially if you add toxic chemicals such as preservatives or aspirin.
- Tape electrical cords down: electrocution is no joke.
- Keep an eye on your pet when guests come and go. With all the commotion, they can end up trapped in closets, cupboards, or even locked outside. If necessary, place your companion animals in a quiet room away from the holiday stress.
- Put a protective screen on your fireplace.
- Be extra careful while in the kitchen or the dining room. According to a CNN.com article, many holiday ingredients are extremely toxic. Grapes and raisins can cause renal failure, onions and garlic (in large quantities, small amounts are used for flavor in dog food) can cause severe red blood damage (especially for cats), macadamia nuts can cause short-term hind-limb paralysis, and bread dough, if eaten before baking, can cause ethanol poisoning. Also, the bread may expand in your pet’s stomach, causing vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating.
- Make sure your barking buddy is a safe distance away from alcoholic beverages, seeds and pits, chocolate, walnuts, coffee, tea, and salt.
- Disregard the sad puppy eyes and refrain from allowing any licking while preparing merry holiday cakes. Batter has raw eggs, which may contain salmonella.
- To be on the safe side, be absolutely certain Fido can’t tip over the Christmas tree, take down ornaments, or gobble up pine needles. Some people go as far as placing their tree in an out-of-reach room or surrounding it with fencing. If your dog isn’t neutered, pine trees make an excellent spot to mark territory.
- If you decide to travel with your pets, follow safety precautions.
In case of an emergency, such as your pet ingesting toxic foods or chemicals, call your local veterinarian or animal emergency hospital.
*Note: For serious questions about your dog’s health and safety, consult your veterinarian.
If you’re still stressing out about your pet getting in trouble, visit the following websites for more detailed tips:
http://www.cyberpet.com/dogs/articles/lexi/holisafety.htm
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4640029/
http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/11/25/dogs.and.toxins/
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