The most important thing we can give our pets and the rest of our family, too, is a safe holiday. None of us want to spend any part of our holidays in the emergency room. There are some simple things to keep in mind to ensure that we all get to enjoy our time together. Most of them are familiar, but there may be one or two that have slipped our minds.
One of the most important things to remember is that pets and candles don't mix. Always supervise pets when candles are in use. It's amazing how high dogs can climb to check out something of interest and cats, of course, can go almost anywhere. Birds that are allowed to fly freely can receive nasty burns.
We all know that some plants are toxic to pets. Poinsettia, while it won't kill your cat or dog, can cause burns to the mouth and throat. Mistletoe can be deadly and pine needles can puncture an animal's intestines.
Here's one that may be a surprise. Did you know that many snowglobes contain antifreeze. Only a very little can kill a good sized dog very quickly.
Animals, like children, are attracted to the shiny ornaments on the tree. These look like balls to a dog or cat, but the broken glass can cause injury to paws and mouth.
Dogs and especially cats think tinsel looks like fun to play with. They're attracted by the light and the movement. It can cause intestinal blockage if eaten and the metal strips can cut the mouth and throat. It's wise to keep glass ornaments and tinsel high on the tree, out of reach of pets. It's a no brainer to keep cords tucked away and to unplug lights when you leave the house.
We all like to indulge in special treats during the holiday season and our pets are no different. We need to be careful and monitor what they consume.
Alcohol is a no no for pets. Many dogs and cats are attracted to the sweet smell, but it can be extremely toxic to them. Don't leave empty drink glasses on low tables where Fido can reach them to do a pre-wash.
We all know the list of toxic foods for dogs - chocolate, grapes and raisins, coffee and tea and macadamia nuts. Don't forget that uncooked yeast dough can expand in the stomach or intestines causing a rupture.
Some people haven't heard about xylitol. It's an artificial sweetener used in some gums, breath mints, candy and other human foods. It is extremely toxic and can kill quickly. If your dog likes to raid visitors purses looking for gum (my boxer had this nasty habit) be aware and keep an eye on him. Just one stick of gum sweetened with xylitol can kill.
Why don't my cookies ever look this good? Remember that pets, like children, can overindulge during the excitement of the holidays. It's fine to want to share out special dinners our treats with our pets, but use good judgement and ration their treats. They'll be just as happy with one of their own treats as they will with a frosted cookie.
This is a good time to check smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and other safety devices. Be sure to keep batteries in a safe place where pets can't get to them.
If Fido or Fluffy does get into something, keep these numbers handy:
ASPCA Poison Control 888-426-4435
Pet Poison Hotline 800-213-6680
If you're traveling for the holiday and taking the family pet with you,be sure to check ahead for the address and phone number of the pet emergency room near your destination. Planning ahead could save a life.
Now enjoy the holidays with your pets, knowing you've taken steps to ensure their safety.