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Norwich Bulletin - 12/12/2004

Holiday Safety

The Holiday season keeps getting closer and closer and we are busy in our homes decorating and baking and getting ready for family and friends. As wonderful as the holidays can be, please remember that there are dangers to our pets that we need to be aware of. Here are some simple dos and donts to help avoid any unnecessary emergencies during a time that should be festive and happy.

Every year I try to get the message across that it is not a good idea to bring a new dog or cat, puppy or kitten, into your home on Christmas Eve, but many parents will turn a deaf ear because they feel they need to have the new pet under the tree for the kids. So, while I still recommend that you bring in your new little pet into the home a few days before or after the holiday, for those parents that will not heed this warning, then please have a room ready for your new little one away from the hustle and bustle of the family.

While the kids are busy unwrapping all the rest of the presents, there is a very real danger that a curious puppy or kitten will be ignored and end up swallowing tinsel or ribbon or even worse, break an ornament and ingest some glass. These are very real problems that can send you off to a very expensive emergency vet visit, or worse, result in the death of your new baby. What a horrible way for you and your children to end a holiday - to lose your new kitten or puppy.

Please do not let all the little cousins who are visiting carry the new pup or kitten around the house. Remember to treat the newcomer as the baby it is. Babies get sick easily and stress causes sickness. This baby has just lost its mother and siblings and has been thrust into the middle of a very confusing situation, so while you are fulfilling the parental obligation of making your children happy, please also remember to do what is best for the newest family member.

The beautifully decorated tree holds dangers for both cats and dogs with tinsel being the number one danger. Pets that ingest the shiny irresistible tinsel, can require surgery to remove the material from its intestines. Also, breakable ornaments placed low enough to be batted off the tree by playful kittens can shatter and cause cuts to paw pads or become imbedded in the pad and, if undetected, end up infected. We use garland instead of tinsel and place breakable ornaments higher on the tree. In fact, consider buying some pet safe ornaments on the lower branches to keep those curious felines amused!

Even small amounts of chocolate can prove toxic to animals. Keep all chocolate wrapped and stored out of the reach of your pet. And remember that all those extension cords needed to light up the tree can prove a temptation to not only cats and dogs, but also to ferrets and bunnies and that temptation could end up a fatality.

Poinsettias are wonderful and, while not terribly toxic to adult animals, they can be irritating and cause some general stomach upsets. With baby animals the results could be more serious. Make a concentrated effort to keep your plants our of reach or discover the joys of plastic!

Christmas dinner is a real favorite for all the Knapp pets as we give holiday treats to everyone that day. But our treats consist of what we ourselves would eat - lean turkey and veggies and even some mashed potatoes and stuffing. But never bones that can splinter or fatty scraps that are no more healthier for your pet than you - after all, the truth is if it is not good for you, it's not good for your pet either.

The weather during the Christmas season is usually cold so please make sure your pets share the indoor warmth with you. If they need to go outside for any amount of time, please provide dry, draft free sleeping areas and fresh water.

Simple safety measures will ensure that your pets and you will enjoy a happy and safe holiday. And with that thought in mind, Helping Paws wishes you and your pets a joyous holiday season.

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