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Holiday Pet Health Tips

While the holidays are a typically happy and exciting time, it’s also the season for pets to get into all types of trouble – and danger. You must be extra vigilant during this season when there are new sights, smells, sounds and things to play with. Here are tips to avoid common health dangers your pets face during this otherwise cheery season:

Don’t Feed Pets Table Scraps

Like people, pets can gain weight during the holidays. Keep your pet on a regular feeding schedule and avoid giving your pet’s table scraps, which can wreak havoc on his system, cause diarrhea, and vomiting or add extra calories he doesn’t need. And, too much fatty food can also cause pancreatitis, says the Princeton Veterinary Hospital.

Holiday Pet Health Tips


Watch Counter Surfers and Food Bandits

If a pet wants something, he’ll find a way to get it. During the holidays, there are all kinds of delicious – and toxic – things hanging around the house. Chocolate, uncooked bread yeast dough, macadamia nuts, onions, Xylitol and more can all cause big problems if your pet ingests them, says Dr. Jason Nicholas, author of “101 Essential Tips You Need to Raise a Happy, Healthy, Safe Dog.” Be diligent.

Be Careful Where You Leave Presents

No matter how well a present is wrapped, pets can get into them. “Wrapping paper, tape and ribbon are no match for a dog hot on the scent of a box of chocolates or some other tasty food treat,” cautions Dr. Nicholas.

Hide Electric Cords

“I’ve had two pets chew through them, and I’ve seen plenty of burned mouths as a result of electric shock, so I’m vigilant about keeping pets away from electric cords,” says Dr. Patty Khuly in her article, “8 Ways to Pet Proof Your Holiday Home.” Cover them with cord covers or use battery-powered holiday lights, she advises.

Keep Tree Decorations Out of Reach

Tinsel, lights and ornaments are irresistible to pets…but they are all hazards says Pet MD’s article, “Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays.”  Tinsel, if ingested can cause intestinal blockage. Lights, when chewed, can burn or shock a pet, and ornaments, if they break (or get chewed), can cut a pet. Place these items out of reach or put a pet-proof barrier around your tree, recommends Pet MD.

Avoid Bringing Toxic Plants Into the House

Holiday plants can be poisonous to pets, warns Dr. Edward Cooper, assistant professor of Veterinary Clinical Services at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Poinsettias and pine are a of couple popular holiday plants that can cause problems. Dr. Cooper recommends checking the ASPCA toxic and non-toxic plant list for more information about keeping your pet safe.

Stay On Schedule

Holiday stress isn’t just limited to humans. Pets can get anxious and stressed by schedule changes, visitors and new objects in the home, like Christmas trees or lights, says Dr. Meghan Herron, Clinical Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. In the article, “Holiday Pet Safety,” she advises pet parents to try to maintain a consistent feeding and exercise schedule during the holiday.

Provide Save Havens For Pets

During the chaos of the holidays with people coming and going, it’s a good idea to provide a safe “getaway” for your pet, far away from the noise, people and confusion, recommends the article, “Holiday Pet Safety.” This can be a room in your house where your pet won’t be disturbed but that has all of his favorite toys, a bed, food, water and a litter box for cats. If your pet is especially anxious around visitors, the article suggests boarding him for a few days to alleviate stress on him – and you.

Know Who to Call

Be prepared! says Dr. Marty Becker in his article, “Have a Safe and Stress-Free Holiday Season.”  He advises, “Call your veterinarian’s office and ask for information about who will be handling emergencies during the holidays. Then stick that information on your refrigerator, along with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone number. It’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at 888-426-4435 (for a fee).”

The holidays are a time of fun and cheer – with a few precautions you can keep your pets safe and away from the vet’s emergency room!

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