Pets

Dr. Walt's happy tails: 6 tips to keep your pet safe during the holidays

Author: Canadian Living

Pets

Dr. Walt's happy tails: 6 tips to keep your pet safe during the holidays

Pets should never be given as a holiday present, especially if this is gift is meant to be a surprise. The pet may not be welcome, the gift-getter not prepared (e.g., no food, crate, litter box, etc.), and all the excitement can be too much for the new addition to handle. Instead, give a book on various breeds of dogs or cats to determine if the person is willing and, if so, then has the time to get prepared (as well as the opportunity to pick out the pet they desire!).

"All that glitters is not gold" is a term that applies to our pets over the holiday season particularly when it comes to holiday decorations. Here are some cautionary reminders:

1. Tinsel, used as a Christmas tree decoration, is not only pleasing to our eye but can attract your cat's eye as well. If tinsel is ingested, it may create a bowel obstruction and need to be surgically removed. Therefore, avoid the use of tinsel or, as a minimum, leave the tinsel off of the lower branches and out of the reach of your cat.

2. Certain plants associated with the holiday season can be toxic to your pet if eaten. All parts of the mistletoe or holly plant are potentially very toxic to pets and the leaves of poinsettia plants have a low toxicity potential. These same plants can be toxic to children as well so keep them out of the reach of inquisitive mouths or hands.

3. Chocolate can be very toxic if eaten, particularly dark or unsweetened baking chocolates. Giving your pets chocolate of any kind should be avoided. Also, don't wrap chocolate as a gift and leave it under the tree unattended – the keen nose of dogs will be sure to single the package out for further exploration!

4. When setting up your Christmas tree, ensure that it is firmly secured in place. This will prevent playful pets (especially puppies and kittens) from knocking the tree over.

5. Holiday costumes may be cute but if held on by ribbon or elastic bands, may be harmful to your pet and should be avoided.

6. If your travel plans over the holidays are to include your pet, plan ahead. Ensure that your pet is as welcome as you are at your holiday destination and pack any special medical or dietary needs. Also, because the new surroundings may be confusing for some pets, ensure they are properly restrained at all times and have identification (e.g., tag or microchip). This should reduce the potential for your pet becoming lost and, if it does occur, assist in a speedy return.

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Dr. Walt's happy tails: 6 tips to keep your pet safe during the holidays

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