The Twelve Safety Tips of Christmas
(or, Let Your Veterinarian Enjoy the Holidays, Too!)

Be sure that your pet has a safe, secure and quiet place to be during the upcoming Holidays. It will reduce stress for you, your guests and your pet and reduce the chance of an escape or accident.

Chocolate is toxic to dogs! Even small amounts can cause big trouble. It's tempting to put a lovely platter of goodies on a coffee table but cats, dogs, house rabbits, iguanas, ferrets and other pets are much better off with food that is meant for them and their dietary needs.

Holiday decorations. We rearrange lots of things during the Holidays and pets can become confused as to what "treats" are theirs. The electric, snoring Santa with cool noises and motion seems a lot like the plastic squeaky toy your pet was just given. Help them stay out of trouble by keeping tempting decorations out of their way.

Fireplaces, hot woodstoves and candles are another source of singed whiskers and painful burns. Have a closer look to see if rambunctious pets can get into harm's way.

Ask your guests not to feed your pets table scraps or people treats. If you have a brother-in-law who just insists on feeding your pets, show him where the pet treat jar is. Greasy, rich holiday food can cause vomiting and diarrhea. And NO ALCOHOL!

Use common sense when hanging decorations on your tree. Delicate or breakable ornaments should be safely hung higher in the tree. Tinsel is out of the Holiday story - ingested, it can cause serious intestinal injury.

Try to avoid strung popcorn and cranberries or gingerbread cookie decorations. Some things are just too great a temptation for even the most disciplined pet.

Holiday trash is going to be full of yummy smelling, really dangerous stuff. Poultry bones, coffee grounds, fat, plastic and tin foil that goodies were wrapped in are sure to lure your pet. Keep a super secure lid on the trash can or better yet, stow it behind a securely locked door.

Gifts under the tree may look pretty to you and me but many pets think the very expensive suede gloves or leather slippers in that package is a chewy toy for them and dig right in.

There's no time like the Holiday Season to have your windows lit up with candelabras. Extension cords are everywhere! This can be very confusing to your pet, especially a juvenile. Keep cords bundled up and secure behind an object your pet can't get to.

Be sure to pick up your decorating ribbons, yarns, scissors, etc. when done, even if you think you'll get right back to your project. Curiosity is natural in your pet and these distractions can result in injury.

Try to think like your pet for a moment as you think about the Holidays and your environment. Your pet wants to be with you and a part of all you do. Don't set your faithful companion up to lose. After the Holidays are over, the turkey is a fond memory and Aunt Edna has gone home, your cherished pet will want to resume his "back to normal" routine. With a little forethought you can have a safe, happy and emergency room free Holiday.

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© 2000 Cocheco Valley Humane Society