Holidays can bring new dangers to pets
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Saturday, November 17, 2012
11/17/12 at 5:05 AM
The holidays are not just for humans, and if you're a pet owner, you probably take special care to make sure your cat or dog feels included this time of year.
Local veterinarians Joe Landers of Heritage Animal Hospital and Chris Kelley of the Small Animal Hospital of Owasso are all for it. Just "pay attention to what's going on around you," said Kelley about being aware of your pets' whereabouts during this busy time of year.
New things are being introduced to your pets' environment. Presents, trees, lights, garland, parties, houseguests and the noise that can come with houseguests.
Anything from turkey to tinsel can prove hazardous to your family's furry friend.
Here are some things to keep in mind this holiday season if you are a pet owner.
Be careful about sharing your Thanksgiving meals
Giving leftovers to your pet any time of year is a big no-no.
But Kelley said his office sees a lot of cases of stomach upset and other gastrointestinal problems in the days after Thanksgiving and other holidays because people have fed their pets table scraps.
If you must include the family dog and cat in the festivities, stay clear of fatty and spicy foods, as well as bones. Keep pets away from sweets - especially chocolates and candies sweetened with xylitol, which can give dogs low blood sugar.
Also, make sure sweets and other things aren't in places easily accessible for your snooping dog or cat.
Christmas decorations can be hazardous to pets
One drawback of having a live Christmas tree is that the water it sits in can be toxic to house pets. Kelley recommends changing the water daily to keep harmful microbes from growing. Or set up a barrier around the tree stand.
Also, make sure your tree is fastened securely in its stand. In the case your cats want to give the tree a rub, the tree won't tip over, fall and injure him or her. And in the vein of cats and Christmas trees - tinsel is a holiday favorite.
"They love the sparkly tinsel and they'll eat that," Kelley said. When that happens, the tinsel soon wads up, the cat's intestines are obstructed and serious surgery is needed.
Landers added that if you've got a pet - a puppy or kitten or newly adopted animal - that is "still learning Christmas," hanging those precious ornaments low on the tree or dangling way out on the edges isn't a great idea.
Holiday plants such as poinsettias, hollies and mistletoe are toxic to pets. If you have to have them, keep them in a place inaccessible to your animals.
Holiday lights, candles should be monitored, too
Once you've finally untangled your Christmas lights and other wired accessories for the season, you've hung them, mounted or draped them, keep a close eye on your pets around these potentially dangerous decorations.
Electrocution cases are rare but Kelley said in the past he has seen animals who've chewed on tree lights and suffered burns in their mouths.
Candles also should never be left unattended and especially not with pets.
Coping with full house can be stressful on pets
The holidays at your home can mean a house full of people - something a sociable pet will have no problem with. But some pets can be literally sickened by the stress.
"Some pets aren't used to the holidays ... seeing guys in red suits and little green elves," Landers said.
He suggests getting into a routine with your pet during the holiday, whether that means petting them more, or taking them on extra walks - something that will keep them occupied.
If your pet is not used to being around a lot of people, Kelley said "sometimes it's good to put those guys in a room on their own with maybe a TV on or something to do."
Your pets' holiday meal
While the table fare come Thanksgiving and Christmas and really any day of the year is off limits to your family pets, Dr. Chris Kelley does not see any reason why they can't join in on the holiday with their own special meal.
Consider switching the typical dry food they eat for a can of wet food as a special treat.
If you have to incorporate some people food, go bland, Landers said. Cottage cheese and yogurt are mild toppers that will go down well and your pet may enjoy.
And "if you just have to feed your pet a protein, then boiled chicken is good," Landers said.
Gifts for pets
When out getting that holiday shopping done, make sure you don't forget about the family pooch.
The Humane Society of the United States suggests keeping a couple things in mind when selecting toys and other items for your dog.
Make sure the toys are appropriate for your dog's size because items that are too small can easily be swallowed or get caught in your dog's throat.
Soft toys can be great for comfort, but make sure they are labeled as safe for children younger than 3 years old and do not contain such dangerous fillings as nutshells and polystyrene beads.
Soft toys should be small enough for your dog to carry around.
And if you're thinking about giving your dog the gift of a rawhide chew toy, make sure to talk to your vet about which are safe and right for your pet.
Original Print Headline: Keep pets safe
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
Veterinarian Joe Landers holds onto Zenia, a Labrador-mix puppy. Common holiday items can prove hazardous to pets, so pet owners should take extra caution at this time of year. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Top Paw Sock Monkey Sweater, PetSmart
PetHoliday by ToyShoppe Plush Rudolph Reindeer, PetSmart
PetHoliday by All Living Things Gingerbread Chews, PetSmart