8 Pet Safety Tips for Christmas Day

holiday-pet-safety-tipsHere are eight pet safety tips for pets to keep safe on Christmas Day:

  • Leaving out Christmas cookies for Santa is something St. Nick’s waistline sure doesn’t need, and your pets certainly don’t either. Chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) is dangerous to pets. Even sugar-free cookies or brownies can be a problem for pets if they’re made with an artificial sweetener called Xylitol, which is toxic. Also, a reminder about grapes, they are dangerous for dogs.

Santa loves his cookies, and so do pets, but that can be a problem, especially if dark chocolate is involved.

  • Gifts wrapped with ribbon, or tinsel hanging from a tree can be too darn temping – particularly for puppies and kittens. The result might be emergency surgery should they swallow it.
  • Birds appreciate good cooks. Birds have such sensitive respiratory systems that aromatic candles or potpourri can be lethal. It’s always a good idea to keep pet parrots away from the kitchen when you’re cooking; the bouquet of burnt food, particularly when prepared on nonstick surfaces, such as Teflon, can be deadly.
  • When pets swallow pieces of poultry bones, veterinarians are often needed for emergency life-saving surgery. When pets eat skin off ham, turkey, or chicken – or if they simply eat too much – pancreatitis can mean a trip to the pet ER on Christmas Day.
  • With all that company coming and going, some pets might sneak outside, either because they're scared or yearn to explore. Regardless of the reason, you don’t want to spend Christmas Day searching for wandering pets. If your pet is a known escape artist, it’s a good idea to seclude furry friends in a basement, bedroom, or office.
  • "Loud" is the best way to describe some neighbors and relatives. And for some pets, those big personalities can be much to deal with. The ever-ringing doorbell and raucous children may add to the anxiety. Relocate these pets into a room with a closed door, plug in a pheromone diffuser (Feliway for cats, Adaptil for dogs) to ease the anxiety, and turn on soothing music (more like Bach or Barry White than AC/DC). Offer a food puzzle toy and treats and toys for a distraction. Learn more here.
  • Play is a super stress-buster. For cats, even a 10-minute session of interactive play before the guests arrive is a good idea. A brisk walk or tossing the tennis ball or Frisbee disc can help to release canine energy before the throng arrives.
  • For their own safety, small pets (rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, ferrets, etc.) should be off limits to children, unless there is adequate adult supervision. In fact, anytime kids under 12 or 13 are interacting with pets, an adult should be observing.

And finally, remember to leave a gift under the tree for all family members, even those with four legs, feathers, or scales (but what do you get a fish?).

Steve is a certified animal behavior consultant, and the author of several books, including ebooks “Good Cat!” and “Good Dog!” He’s a co-editor of “Decoding Your Dog” (by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists” which Victoria wrote the foreword. He’s the host of several radio shows, including nationally syndicated Steve Dale’s Pet World, and can be heard on WGN Radio, Chicago. He has a long list of TV credits., from Oprah to Animal Planet shows, including his current appearances on “HouseSmarts TV. He serves on several Boards, including Winn Feline Foundation.
His website/blog: www.stevedalepetworld.com.

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Positively Expert: Steve Dale

Steve is a certified dog and cat behavior consultant, has written several books, hosts two nationally syndicated radio shows, and has appeared on numerous TV shows including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "National Geographic Explorer," and "Pets Part of the Family." Steve’s blog is www.stevedale.tv


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