Tuesday, 11 December 2018
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Keeping pets happy and healthy during the holidays

 

During the holidays, lots of delicious goodies abound, the halls are decked and households are bustling with visitors and special deliveries. We all look forward to this time of year, and pets are no exception. Despite the joys associated with the season, pets face hidden dangers from seemingly innocuous items such as food, decorations and even friendly visitors. The following are some of my top tips to help keep pets safe and happy.

Behavior and identification

  • Hire a certified trainer to brush up on obedience skills.
  • Provide all pets with lots of mental stimulation, exercise, access to entertaining toys as well as appropriate outlets for chewing in order to keep them busy and focused on healthy activities. Many fun games/activities can be made out of items we already have laying around the house!
  • Microchip all pets and fit them with forms of identification that include your phone number as well as that of your vet so you can be promptly notified should your pet get lost and found.
  • If not already licensed, register pets with your municipality. Since an updated rabies certificate is a mandatory licensing requirement, proof of rabies vaccination reduces the likelihood a pet will have to be quarantined in a shelter for 10 days.
  • Be certain to maintain feeding, walking and attention schedules. Routines help pets feel more comfortable and centered when their environment become a bit chaotic.

Foods

  • Keep all foods out of reach from counter-surfers (dogs) and stalkers (cats).
  • Avoid toxic foods such as grapes, raisins, chocolate, nuts, alcohol, avocado, meat and poultry bones as well as artificial sweeteners, colors and preservatives.
  • Any sudden change in diet can cause abdominal distress even if the foods ingested are healthy. Most visitors – especially children — will feed pets table scraps. Place an abundant supply of treat dispensers on table tops and other surfaces and encourage guests to offer pets appropriate treats in lieu of table food.
  • Do not allow diet drinks or foods into your home. It’s not worth the hazard associated with a pet licking up a spill or eating a toxic tidbit.
  • A complete list of dangerous food items is available at https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets
  • If you suspect a pet has ingested a toxic or dangerous substance, contact ASPCA Poison Control at (888) 426-4435.

Decorations

  • Small ornaments, beads and tinsel present potential choking and abdominal obstruction hazards.
  • Tape down or completely cover electrical wires to prevent access to chewing.
  • Do not add preservatives to Christmas tree water since pets will drink it.
  • Unplug all string lights and other electronics when unsupervised to prevent injuries.
  • Do not allow pets to gain access to artificially scented potpourri, pine cones or air fresheners.
  • Keep all plants and flowers out of reach. Despite their reputation poinsettias are not toxic, but they will cause inflammatory stomach upset.
  • Eliminate artificial scents and scented oils from the environment since some may cause respiratory distress in household pets. 

Visitors and Deliveries

  • If pets are fearful of or aggressive toward visitors, consider boarding them during gatherings.
  • Leash all dogs when greeting guests to inhibit jumping or potentially knocking down a guest.
  • Be mindful that small breeds are at risk for being stepped on and severely injured.
  • Monitor all points of entrance and egress to prevent pets from running off or getting lost should guests leave doors ajar.
  • Check on pets frequently. Most people don’t realize their pet is missing or sick until the party is over and all guests have gone home.
  • Secure pets when retrieving deliveries to prevent chasing after delivery people or running off when owners are busy bringing packages into the house. Choosing an alternative entrance that pets don’t have access to such as a garage can be a much safer choice.
  • Place all packages and gifts out of reach from pets who may be tempted to destroy them or ingest contents

Karen Fazio, CDBC is a certified dog behavior consultant and owner of The Dog Super Nanny professional dog training in Keyport, NJ. She may be reached for comment at karen@thedogsupernanny.com. For more information on pet safety tips, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Source: https://www.nj.com/pets/index.ssf/2018/11/decking_the_halls_safely.html

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