Follow these holiday tips to help your companion animal
enjoy the holidays without illness:
1. Secure garbage in bins with dog-proof lids or behind
locked doors. Dogs may chew up holiday throwaways such as meat scraps,
bones, paper, foil or plastic flavored with food, and even gift wrapping
and ribbon, which can absorb food flavors. Ingesting these items can
result in vomiting, diarrhea or intestinal perforation or obstruction.
Meat-soaked strings from rump roasts are also enticing. Ingestion can
cause a surgical emergency called a "linear string foreign body" in the
intestines. Rich, fatty foods, like gravy or grease, can cause problems
ranging from stomach upsets to pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of
the pancreas resulting in pain, vomiting, and dehydration. Animals with
this serious condition often require hospitalization for treatment.
2. Chocolate, coffee, and tea all contain dangerous
components called xanthines, which cause nervous system or urinary
system damage and heart muscle stimulation. Chocolate, with theobromine,
is especially a problem because pets love its flavor. Problems from
ingestion range from diarrhea to seizures and death. Unsweetened baking
chocolate and dark chocolate are the worst culprits, but all chocolate,
fudge and other candy should be placed out of your companion animal's
3. Keep alcohol away from your companion animals.
Alcohol even in small amounts can be toxic. An ounce of 20- to-40- proof
alcohol can put your dog in a coma.
4. Keep all poinsettias, holly and mistletoe out of
reach of your pets. Eating the leaves and berries of mistletoe could
cause a drop in blood pressure. Hibiscus causes diarrhea. Ivy can cause
diarrhea, convulsions, and in some cases even death when eaten in large
quantities. Holly, poinsettias and other poisonous plants are best kept
away from inquisitive companion animals.
5. When decorating for the holidays place lights and
ornaments in safe places. Avoid glass ornaments, and be aware that your
companion animal may eat tinsel or other decorations. Consider a smaller
living or cut tree that can be positioned on a tabletop, making it
harder for your dog to reach decorations. Secure larger trees to a wall
to prevent tipping, and use a screen around the base to block access to
electrical cords and gifts. Tinsel and gift-wrap may look like fun toys
but they can cause choking, upset stomach or even more serious problems.
6. Do not use edible decorations. Decorating trees with
food is asking for problems. Candy canes and gingerbread people can be
enticing to your pet. A diabetic dog can have some problems with
regulating it's disease if she is stealing candy canes off of the tree.
Popcorn, raisin, or cranberry garlands are beautiful, but can cause an
obstruction when eaten, requiring surgery.
7. Anticipate guests arriving at your home and confine
your dog to prevent him from escaping out an open door and running away.
8. Reduce your dog's stress around this busy time by
maintaining your dog's feeding and exercise schedule. Set aside a
special place where your dog can get away from the excitement and have a
9. Food is the NO. 1 holiday hazard for dogs. So, be
sure you do NOT feed chicken or turkey bones. They splinter easily and
can cause choking. Ask guests not to give your dog treats from the
10. Put away children's toys after they open them. Small
toys and rubber balls are common causes of choking and intestinal
blockage in dogs.
11. Do not leave paper, ribbons and yarn out after
you've wrapped presents. A bored or curious pet may choke on them.
12. Display candles on high shelves, and use fireplace
screens to avoid singed whiskers and painful burns.
13. Tuck or tape cords out of reach. Bored dogs and
teething pups often get electrocuted when they chew them.
14. Christmas Trees. Pine needles can get lodged in an
animal's esophagus, making it painfully prickly for your pet to swallow.
Even drinking the water from the Christmas tree base is enough to cause
diarrhea, mouth sores, vomiting and loss of appetite. Cover your tree
stand tightly with skirting and distract your companion animal from tree
temptations with holiday toys and treats.
15. Read labels on products such as tree water
preservatives and artificial snow, and buy only non-toxic products.
16. Animals, especially very young and older animals,
can suffer stress, frostbite and hypothermia when their body temperature
drops just a few degrees below normal. The tips of the ears, feet and
tail are common areas to be affected. Watch for the formation of ice
balls between your companion animal's toes and regularly trim the long
hair between the footpads to avoid frostbitten feet. If you suspect
frostbite, do not rub the area but simply apply warm moist packs and
contact your veterinarian.
17. Be aware that if you wrap a food product for a gift
and put it under your tree that your dog can very easily get to the
item, unwrap it and eat it.
18. Perfumes and after-shaves contain ethanol (alcohol)
and perfume also contains essential oils which can be very toxic to
19. Batteries for toys or other gifts can be toxic and
cause intestinal obstruction. Keep in a safe place until they are ready
to be inserted in the gift.
20. Cleaning products such as disinfectants get a lot of
use during the holidays as we spiff up our homes for visitors. Remember,
many of these products can be toxic.
21. If traveling with your companion animal, be sure all
vaccinations are current and carry your rabies certificate with you
(this is the law in many states).
22. New companion animals are not the best holiday
gifts. Don't consider giving an animal as a gift unless you are sure the
person wants one. It may be better to give a gift certificate so the
person can choose his or her own companion animal after the holidays.
Similarly, if thinking about getting a new companion animal for
yourself, remember they need routine and a time to bond with you. With
its noise, commotion and special hazards, the holiday season is anything
Think about getting your new companion animal after the
Why not make the holidays more enjoyable for homeless
animals? Contact your local animal shelter to see if you can donate
food, kitty litter, toys or time.
23. When choosing a holiday gift for your special
friend, be sure it's safe - no small pieces that could come off and be
swallowed. Choose healthy holiday treats for your companion animal and
give them in moderation.
24. Keep items such as tablecloths, table runners, etc.
from hanging too low to the ground, and tempting happy dogs running by
to grab an end and pull!
25. Potpourri contains oils that can be toxic to animals
if eaten. We may not think of eating it, but some curious animals may.
26. Adhesives and glues can be toxic and are often
attractive to animals, especially cats.
Remember the best present you can give your companion
animals this holiday season is good health and some extra loving
Go on to Report Cruel
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