Make sure that everyone gets to enjoy the holiday season by keeping the four-legged members of your family safe this December. It’s easy to get distracted at this time of year, so if you have pets, try to keep these ideas in mind:
- Avoid tinsel and clean up strings and ribbon right away. Swallowed decorations can seriously damage internal organs, leading to a painful and dangerous situation.
- Display and dispose of holiday plants safely. Poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses, leading to bad gastrointestinal upset if eaten.
- Be careful with pet treats. Your lucky dog probably loves his biscuits, rawhides, or jerky sticks, but if he eats them whole - or too many at once - he may not be able to digest them. Unchewed treats can get stuck in the windpipe or gastrointestinal tract.
- Human food. Don’t feed your cat or dog people food. Food with bones (choking), chocolate, or xylitol (both toxic) can hurt your pet right away. Fatty holiday people foods can cause the painful and life-threatening disease pancreatitis in the long term.
Learn more about keeping your pet holiday-safe with this publication from the Food and Drug Administration.
As with the rest of your family, it’s important to plan for your pet before, during and after a natural disaster. While making emergency plans for your family, make sure you know of the pet friendly hotels and shelters in your area, so that if a disaster does occur, you know which places will accept your pet.
You should have an emergency kit planned and ready to go for your family that also includes important things for your pet, like food, medications, veterinary records and other supplies that may not be available later.
If you are evacuated from your home, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests that you take your pets with you. Most pets cannot survive on their own if left behind, and if they do, they are often lost after you return to your home.
Making sure your pet has a secure tag with up-to-date information could help your pet be returned to you if you get separated later on.
Learn more about what to do with your pets during and after a disaster.
While sugarless products may be better for our teeth and waistlines, they are not safe for dogs and ferrets. Xylitol, a common ingredient in sugarless gum, candies and baked goods, can cause these pets to have seizures and liver failure.
If you suspect your dog or ferret has ingested xylitol, watch for vomiting, loss of coordination and depression. Your pet may get sick within minutes or days after eating xylitol. If you know or suspect that your pet has ingested xylitol, contact your vet or a pet poison control center right away.
Learn more about the dangers sugarless candies pose to your pets.