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Norwich Bulletin - 12/6/2010

Christmas 101- Part B

As a continuation of last week’s column, there are several different things that are important for you to know about holiday safety. Be sensible when you leave gifts under the tree. You wouldn’t believe what could be interesting to your pet.

When my kids were little and I was a single mother, they were very excited that they had bought me a complete makeup kit for Christmas. They carefully wrapped it and placed it under the tree. Christmas morning came and we were greeted by a wagging tail and a Lab that had eaten all of the makeup and most of the plastic case.

The girls were heart broken and I was glad that Kenya had a steel stomach because it could have been a disaster. Perfumes, after shave, and batteries can be extremely toxic so before Santa places any toys under the tree, think about the possibilities.

We all like making homes festive for the holidays. We enjoy green foliage and colorful flowers and plants. Unfortunately many of the plants we like to have in our homes over the holidays can be poisonous to cats and dogs. Holly leaves and berries can be potentially fatal to your pets.

Mistletoe can cause heart collapse, poinsettias have an irritating sap that tends to cause blistering in the mouth. So when you brighten up your home with these particular plants, please place them well out of reach from your dogs and only use them as decorations for rooms that your cats do not have access too.

Food is a big part of the holidays and because so much of our feast contains rich, fatty foods, it can be a problem for your pet. Your pet can suffer from a stomach ache all the way to pancreatitis, which results in pain, vomiting and dehydration. Dogs with this serious condition often require hospitalization for treatment.

If your pet gets a hold of uncooked meat, fish or poultry, they are susceptible to disease causing bacteria, such as E-coli, and parasites that can cause toxoplasma. Bones from any of these meals can splinter, causing lacerations throughout the intestinal tract. My parents learned this lesson the hard way. Our Keeshond Rima got a hold of sparerib bones and they splintered inside her. It was emergency surgery to save her life and a very expensive Christmas, as well as very painful for the dog.

Be careful of your alcohol. Dogs and cats are attracted to the sweet drinks such as spiked egg not and can die after a single alcohol consumption. Don’t put your glases on the floor or leave them on tables and walk away if they have any liquids left in them.

That also goes for coffee and tea which contains xanthines, which cause nervous system or urinary system damage. Chocolate is especially a problem because animals love the taste as much as we do. But for us, we just get fat – our pets can end up with seizures and death if they eat too much.

Pet proof your garbage cans. There is plastic wrap, bones, fat trimmings, pieces of meat soaked string from roasts and your pets will figure if you had it, it must be good. And when you choose your holiday gifts for your special furry friends, be sure it is safe. Look for healthy holiday treats and give them in moderation. Lean turkey and chicken with vegetables is the big present to my cats and dog on Christmas Day.

Lastly, think about how your cat or dog reacts to visitors. Some pets love visitors and behave very well. Others may be fearful or aggressive. My dog Daisy becomes what I would call over-exuberant when there are a lot of people over. While I will let her say hello to everyone, before the festivities of food and presents begin, Daisy goes into her crate with a special chewy toy bought just for the occasion.

Our cats love people but when it is time to eat, they go to “jail” – a room where they can nap and not get into everyone’s plate. If your friends have small children and you do not, it is especially important to give your pets their own space for their safety and the safety of the children. And if you like your friends and/or family members, let them know you have animals in case they are allergic.

If you are going away, it is probably best to leave your animals at home. You can certainly leave your dog in a reputable boarding facility. Cats I would suggest you find someone to come into the home to feed them and scoop litter boxes. Cats are much happier in their own environment and need less care than dogs. When cats go to a boarding facility, they are normally left in a small cage area which would not make for a great holiday for your pets.

Remember these suggestions and enjoy a safe, healthy holiday with both your human and furry animal friends.

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