Keeping Pets Safe

The holidays are a wonderful time of warmth, love, and companionship for the whole family, pets or "fur-kidsî included. Sadly, many of the special things we do at the holidays can cause trouble for our furry friends. More pets are lost and injured during this season than any other. This year, show how much you care by creating a safe holiday environment for your pets. What better gift can you give to the smallest members of your family? Here are some things to guard against as you go about your holiday preparations.

Getting Lost. Airplanes, cars, relatives, shopping ñ it's a wonder we don't get lost during the chaos of the holidays, let alone our pets! Try to be extra attentive to your pets during this time. If you're traveling, make your pets an item on your to-do list so you don't forget any important supplies, food, or to arrange for a caregiver. Be sure your pets' tags are up to date and, if possible, have your vet implant a locator chip under each pet's skin.

Dangerous Plants and Food. Many of the most beautiful holiday plants are also poisonous to pets. Keep all poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, lilies, amaryllis, pine, balsam, ivy, and boxwood plants and swags away from your pets. Also, don't let your pets drink from any Christmas tree water, it can contain dangerous levels of fertilizer and bacteria. If you think your pet has consumed any of the plants listed above, contact the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center ( right away.

Many forms of people food are also harmful to dogs and cats. Never give your pet: chocolate, yeast dough, cookie dough, alcohol, rhubarb, onions, onion powder, salt, or coffee. Poultry bones are also dangerous, since they can splinter and do considerable damage. Restrain yourself from offering your furry friend too much cooked turkey or ham. Human foods are too rich for pets and the seasoning can upset their stomachs and give them diarrhea. And one more thing - watch for antifreeze puddles on your driveway. Even small amounts can be toxic to pets.

Stress. Dogs and cats thrive on routine. They like their naps at naptime and their walks at walk-time. When the holidays hit, however, the schedule crumbles. Do what you can to keep your pets' lives as normal as possible. Be sure they have familiar beds and comforting toys around, and try to keep your dog's walk schedule as normal as possible. Feed your pets at the regular time and be sure to give your little friends lots of love.

Parties and general commotion take their toll on your pets. With the regular routine abandoned and strange smells and noises in the air, your pets can become nervous and are more likely to act out or try to escape. Strange voices, fireworks, New Year's noisemakers, and unfamiliar cars can all cause your pets to panic. If your pets seem nervous, provide them with a special safe room, where things are quiet. Put food, water, a well-loved bed and litter box in this room so your pets will have all of their needs met. Be sure the room has no open windows or escape routes in case of a loud, startling noise. At the party's end, clean up left-over food and drinks before bringing your pets back from the safe room, then give them some of your undivided attention for behaving so well.

Dangerous Decorations. It may seem funny the first time your kitty pulls down the decorations or climbs the tree, but it's also a sign of things to come. Pets love decorations, especially ones that move, spin, or smell like the outdoors, but the temptation to play often causes havoc. Spend a few minutes pet-proofing your decorations and save yourself from some potentially dangerous situations.

Keep candles to a minimum and watch their placement. Tails and whiskers are easily singed, so keep any eye on any lit candles. Tree decorations made of tinsel, metal, and breakable glass are potential hazards ñ put any fragile ornaments high on the tree or leave them off altogether. Cloth and paper ornaments can go on the bottom. Be sure the tree stand is sturdy so the tree won't tip, and consider buying a Blue Spruce since its prickly needles make climbing less fun. Be sure the light cords are up off the floor, particularly if you have a puppy that's in the mood to chew.Looking for more information and other great articles about camping with pets? Visit
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