Practical - Index > Pets - Index
Pets - Safety Tips at Holiday Time

The holiday season has arrived. Thanksgiving has just passed and before you know it ... or usually are ready for it ... you'll be waking up to Christmas morning. Boy, doesn't the year fly by? Along with all the joy the holidays bring, they can also present some particular hazards to the health of your pet -- and consequently, to your peace of mind. Here are some ideas that can help prevent problems so that your holiday is a happy one for all. First, it's a good idea of know your vet's holiday hours. Keep emergency phone numbers and any special holiday requirements where they will be easily accessible. Give some thought about how you'll use plants to decorate. Birds, cats and dogs will all nibble on household plants -- and many of them are toxic or poisonous, including mistletoe and poinsettias. They can make your pet very ill so be sure to keep them out of your pet's reach. If your celebration includes having a Christmas tree you should use some caution in placing the decorations on it.

Only use unbreakable decorations at the bottom of your tree so there isn't any danger of your cat batting a glass ball and breaking it, or the pup chewing your grandmother's antique bubble lights. As for birds -- they should not have any access to the tree, decorations, plants and such. For those of us who live with pet birds, we know what mischief they can get into very quickly ... not to mention how destructive they can be. So keep your birds confined, or watch them like a hawk (so to speak) when they are out of their cage. Better to be safe than sorry. As far as the less exotic pets go ... that is, cats and dogs ... how about putting some kitty baubles or doggie toys on the lower branches of the tree instead of your fragile and valuable decorations. That way, if those pets are attracted to the tree they'll find something appropriate for them.

Since we are on the subject of the Christmas tree, here is another safety hint. If you have a live tree placed in water wrap the base so your pets can't drink the water. Many modern live trees have been sprayed with chemicals that may be toxic to your little friends.

Be very, very careful with candles. Your bird or cat may be enticed by the flicker of the flame. Singed whiskers or feathers would certainly put a damper on holiday cheer, not to mention the horror your pet would suffer from a serious burn. Place glass "hurricane lanterns" or other attractive covers over candles to protect your home and your pets.

Give some thought to New Years Eve. Pets are usually frightened by the traditional firecrackers and other noisy merriment and it's best to have a plan to keep them from becoming frightened by the noise. Some dogs may be severely traumatized by fireworks so be sure to leave them inside if you go out to celebrate.

Pets, especially birds and cats, may be stressed by the changes in household routine during the holidays, especially if you are stressed yourself. Some cats and dogs respond to stress by becoming hyper or hysterical, and some simply retreat. Plan to spend some special time with your pets to calm yourself and reassure them during this period. If your pet is especially upset with strangers visiting, prepare a refuge where he can go to escape the "maddening crowd."

From time to time we are all tempted to share many of the holiday foods and treats with our pets. It's important to know that pets are sensitive to sudden changes in their diets, which could cause upset stomachs and pancreatitis, a potentially deadly medical problem. Treats that are safe for people can be fatal if given to pets. Chocolate is one of them. It tastes great, but it contains a chemical similar to caffeine (theobromine), which is toxic to dogs and cats, causing diarrhea, seizures and/or irregular heartbeats. Holiday sweets should be kept out of your pets reach.

Cats love to play with anything resembling string. This includes loose ribbon from presents, tinsel and strung popcorn used for decorations. If a cat swallows any of these objects, they can become lodged in the stomach and intestinal tract and can cause blockage. Signs of trouble include loss of appetite, vomiting and/or lethargy. Treatment can involve surgery to remove the foreign material. To avoid this life-threatening emergency, limit your cat's exposure and access to these items. A safer toy would be a balled up piece of colorful wrapping paper. Your cat can bat it around and keep themselves busy for hours!

For pets, a Christmas tree can appear to be a giant toy rack. Cats are notorious for trying to play with the ornaments and have been known to try and climb up the tree! Make certain that your tree is firmly placed in a wide-based, heavy stand to prevent it from falling. Fragile ornaments should be kept high up, out of kitty's reach

And last of all, we wish you, your family and animals a wonderful and very safe holiday season.

Pets & Animals



As temperatures drop, please stop and review our tips to keep pets snug as bugs this winter: Never let your dog off his leash in snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Snow can obscure familiar scents, and canines can become lost.

1. Keep pets away from antifreeze solution, and promptly clean up any antifreeze spills. Antifreeze is attractive to pets but is deadly, even in very small amounts. As temperatures drop, please stop and review our tips to keep pets snug as bugs this winter: Never let your dog off his leash in snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Snow can obscure familiar scents, and canines can become lost.

2. Do not leave your pets outdoors unattended when the temperature gets below freezing. Pets that are mostly indoors need time to adapt to cold temperatures. They must build up a thicker coat and get their footpads toughened for snow and ice. Pets that get too chilled can develop hypothermia or even frostbite. Ear tips are especially susceptible to frostbite.

3. Short-coated dogs (Greyhounds, Dobermans, Boxers and Boston Terriers) should not go outside without a coat or sweater in very cold weather, except to relieve themselves. Small dogs with short coats (Chihuahuas, miniature Pinschers, and miniature Dachshunds) are especially vulnerable to cold, and may not be able to tolerate any outdoor exercise in extremely cold weather.

4. Many dogs also need boots in cold weather, regardless of coat length. If your dog frequently lifts up his paws, whines or stops during its walks, it is demonstrating that its feet are uncomfortably cold. Be sure to get your dog used to wearing boots before the cold weather sets in.

5. Dogs with long fur on the bottom of their paws often develop ice balls between the pads and toes of the feet. To prevent ice balls from forming, trim the hair around your dog's feet. Apply a small amount of Vaseline, cooking oil, or PAM spray to your dog's feet before taking him for a walk in snow. The oil helps prevent ice balls from sticking. Make sure you use edible oil; most dogs will lick their paws after you apply the oil.

6. If your pet walks on salted sidewalks or streets, be sure to wash his paws after your walk. Salt is very irritating to footpads. Gently rub the bottom of the feet to remove the salt as soon as your dog is off the road.

7. Many animals are less active during the winter, and don't as many calories as in the warmer months. Reduce your pet's diet during the winter, to avoid excessive weight gain. You may wish to consult with your veterinarian about the right winter food portions for your pet.

8. Most cats prefer to spend their winter days indoors; be cautious if your cat likes being outside. Don't let it out in bitterly cold weather, and be sure it has a warm place to go if it does spend a lot of time outdoors. Cats that are left outdoors may crawl into a warm car engine to get warm, which can kill them. It's much safer to keep your cat indoors during the winter.

Holiday Pet Safety Checklist

You can help keep pets safe during the holiday season by following the tips below. For other important, timely tips for cold weather protection, traveling with pets and safety issues.

* Many holiday plants can lead to health problems in dogs and cats. Among the plants to keep out of reach are holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and lilies.

* Snow globes often contain antifreeze, which is poisonous to pets.

* Pine needles, when ingested, can puncture holes in a pet's intestine. So keep pet areas clear of pine needles.

* The extra cords and plugs of holiday lights and other fixtures can look like chew toys to pets. Tape down or cover cords to help avoid shocks, burns or other serious injuries. Unplug lights when you are not home.

* Anchor Christmas trees to the ceiling with a string to keep it from falling on pets.

* Do not let pets drink the holiday tree water. Some may contain fertilizers, and stagnant tree water can harbor bacteria. Check labels for tree water preservatives and artificial snow, and buy only those that are nontoxic. Some folks use screens around trees to block access to electrical cords and gifts.

Very important: do not put aspirin in the water (some folks do this thinking it will keep the tree or plant more vigorous). If a pet ingests the aspirin-laced water, his health or even life can be at risk.

* Pets, particularly cats, can be tempted to eat tinsel, which can block the intestines. Hang tinsel high and securely to keep it out of reach of pets.

* Keep other ornaments out of reach of pets. Ingestion of any ornament, which might look like toys to pets, can result in life-threatening emergencies. Even ornaments made from dried food can lead to ailments. And remember, shards from broken glass ornaments can injure paws, mouths and other parts of the body.

* Put away toys after children open their gifts. Small plastic pieces and rubber balls are common causes of choking and intestinal blockage in dogs. Ingested plastic or cloth toys must often be removed surgically.

* Avoid toxic decorations. Bubbling lights contain fluid that can be inhaled or ingested, snow sprays and snow flock can cause reactions when inhaled, styrofoam poses a choking hazard, tinsel can cause choking and intestinal obstruction, and water in snow scenes may contain toxic organisms such as Salmonella.

* Keep candles on high shelves. Use fireplace screens to avoid burns.

* Holiday guests and other activity can be very stressful and even frightening to pets. It can also trigger illness and intestinal upset. Make sure pets have a safe place to retreat in your house. And make sure they are wearing current I.D. in case they escape out a door when guests come and go.

* Reduce stress by keeping feeding and exercise on a regular schedule.

* Always make time to care for your pets. Some folks get lax about walking their dogs, and a few resort to letting pets out on their own. This puts the animal in danger, while also leading to nuisance complaints and dog bite incidents. Remind pet owners not to take a holiday from responsibly caring for their pets.

* When pets are stressed by holiday activity or during travel, they may require more water. Dogs typically pant more when they feel stressed. Keep fresh water available for them to drink.

* Do not let guests feed your pets human food. There are many holiday foods, including fatty meats, gravies, poultry skin, bones, chocolate and alcohol, that can cause illnesses from vomiting and diarrhea to highly serious pancreatitis and other toxic reactions. In addition, candy wrappers, aluminum foil pieces and ribbons can choke pets.

* Keep pets away from gift packages as well as your gift wrapping area. Ingested string, plastic, cloth and even wrapping paper can lead to intestinal blockage and require surgical removal. And pets have been severely injured by scissors and other items left on floors and tables.

* Keep pets away from the garbage. Use pet-proof containers.

* If you suspect that your pet has eaten something toxic, call your veterinarian and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-888-4-ANI-HELP.

* If your pet ingests glass, broken plastic, staples or other small, sharp objects, call your veterinarian. In the meantime, you can give your dog supplemental fiber in the form of whole wheat or other high-fiber bread, canned pumpkin or Metamucil, any of which can help bulk up the stools the help the foreign material pass through the dogs digestive system. Dosages depend on the size of the dog. For Metamucil, try a teaspoon for a small dog, a tablespoon for a big dog. For pumpkin, feed one-quarter to two-thirds of a cup. Some folks recommend feeding the dog cotton balls to help pass the foreign objects, but others in the veterinary field caution against this since cotton balls can compound the problem.

* By the way, now is a good time to double-check smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and other safety devices and replace batteries. Safety, of course, is the key reason -- but here's another good reason. When batteries run low, the devices often emit alert or alarm sounds at frequencies that can be painful and frightening to many pets. If you're not home when the alert/alarm sounds, your animals will have to endure that sound until you return, which can be traumatic. So always keep fresh batteries in those devices.


Pet Safety Alert!


Here's a simple way to help protect your family pets in the event of a fire or emergency. A company specializing in Pet Safety Alert (PSA) has created an eye catching Pet Alert Fire Rescue decal that can be placed on windows, sliding glass doors to alert Firefighters or Police to save their pets inside in case of fire, floods or any immediate disasters that may fall upon us at any time. The vibrant bright red and white Pet Alert decals with a Dalmatian Dog mascot named "Rescue Rover" wearing a fireman hat say: "Pet Alert" Fire Rescue (Please Save our Pets) in big bold bright white letters. People are horrified when they realize how helpless their pets would be in a fire", For many people, pets are like members of the family. In the event of a home fire, wouldn't you want firefighters or anyone to know you have pets inside? There is no price you can pay to protect and save a pet family member. It's Priceless!

Thousands of family pets perish each year in home fires and other disasters. Many pet deaths could be avoided if pet owners to the time to place Pet Alert decals on windows. Having Pet Alert decals on windows, gives the firefighters or police a better chance of informing them about how many and what type of pets that are inside when they arrive on the scene that need to be rescued in case of fire or disaster. Having Pet Alert decals on windows or sliding glass doors can mean the split second difference between life and death for the survival of your pet family member.

The 4" x 5" Pet Alert decals are printed with a bright vibrant red and white color for EZ eye catching visibility, that will not fade, and are made of a strong durable weather proof static cling vinyl material that will adhere to any glass window surface and can easily be put on or removed and reused again, and are not like regular adhesive decals that can stay permanently attached. Pet Alert decals are recommended by firemen and can also be an added deterrent to unsuspecting burglars that see the bright red and white decals on windows, thinking twice before trying to break into your home, knowing that there are pets inside that might attack or alert them of their presence..

Pets & Animals in Distress knows the importance of Pet Safety in any emergency disaster crisis that may fall upon us at anytime, as seen in the recent aftermaths Hurricane disasters, where many pet owners left their animals behind in homes. We encourage everyone to promote Pet Safety Awareness when it comes to protecting our cherished animals in our homes and to have Pet Safety Alert Decals placed on windows to alert emergency rescue personal or animal rescuers that their are pets inside needing to be saved.

Pet Alert Decals make a great holiday gift to pet owners and animal lovers who care about protecting their pets while helping to support Pets & Animals in Distress Feed-A-Pet programs. For each $10 donated you will receive (2) FREE Pet Alert Fire Rescue Window Decals while helping to feed a homeless animal.


Fair Use Notice and Disclaimer
Send questions or comments about this web site to Ann Berlin,