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Make it a Pet-Safe Holiday!

By Mark Forrest Patrick

The holiday season is an exciting time for everyone, from the Christmas tree and blinking lights to the sparkle of the snow and the smell of a fresh tree. When decorating for the holidays it is important to keep in mind everyone’s safety including your pets. If this is your first Christmas with your new companion keep in mind their environment is changing and this is all new to them. The lights will attract your animals to the tree, sounds and moving objects may frighten them.

There are several holiday decorations that are harmful and can be fatal to your pet. Here are a few tips to keep this holiday a special and safe one for the entire family. Be aware of the noises and sounds that your decorations make. The electronic blow up lawn ornaments can be frightening and produce unpleasant sounds. This type of decoration can have a long lasting effect on your pet going into the yard. Keep your live and artificial tree in a fenced in or blocked off room from your pet. The needles are sharp and indigestible. Do not allow your pet to drink the tree water. The water may contain fertilizer, tree preservative, oils and bacteria. Place a cover over the water container to eliminate the temptation. Do not use aspirin in ANY of your holiday plants or flowers. Aspirin may be fatal to your pet if ingested.

Many Holiday decorations can be toxic and fatal to your pet. The following plants if eaten require immediate medical attention from your veterinarian. Holly, mistletoe, poinsettia and lilly plants are only a few. Keep snow globes up where your pets are not able to knock them off and break. Many of the snow globes use anti-freeze in the globe. Keep electrical cords out of reach of your pets, including lights on the lower branches of your tree. Pets enjoy chewing on electrical cords and lights produce heat and may burn your pet. Refrain from the glass ornaments due to breakage and glitter. If the ornament falls on the floor your pet may attempt to consume the ornament and/or cut their feet and mouth. Edible ornaments such as popcorn, cranberries and painted cookies are toxic to your pet if consumed.

Avoid the following decoration types: snow sprays, ornaments with liquid inside and Styrofoam may cause choking. Tinsel on the tree is dangerous to your pet. It may cause an obstruction if swallowed, blocking the intestines. Keep burning candles up high away from wagging tails and inquisitive pets. Remember that the flicker of a candle may create an interest for your pet. Prior to putting gifts under the tree, keep in mind your dog has a keen sense of smell. Do not place chocolates and food items under the tree. Put the children’s toys away after the gifts are opened. Your pet will be attracted to the new toys and the excitement of the game chase to take the toys away from them. If your family and friends give your pet a gift for the holidays, inspect the toy prior to giving it to them to play. Is the toy the appropriate size for your pet? Is your pet able to swallow and choke on the toy? Is the toy stuffed? Does your pet destroy stuffed toys quickly?

Keep in mind that the holiday time can be stressful for everyone including your pet. If your pet puts something into their mouth, Do NOT attempt to chase your pet to remove it. This type of behavior will cause excitement and your pet may swallow the object. Immediately grab a treat or squeaky toy and lure him to you and exchange the toy/treat for what your pet has in their mouth. As much as possible, keep your pets routine the same. The feeding times should not change and your pet needs a quiet space to relax. If your pet retreats to a quiet space keep your guests away and allow some down time. From our home to yours have a very safe and Happy Holiday!