As families all around the country start pulling out their favorite holiday recipes, and shopping lists, and decorations, it’s easy to overlook one hairy detail: the family pets. Between vacationing out-of-town and readying the house for a veritable invasion of friends and family members, it is really no surprise that pets feel left out, but more than that, the general upheaval of the holidays can be a dangerous time for cats and dogs.
Nationally recognized veterinarian Dr. Bernadine Cruz, DVM, and one of the resident veterinarian advisors on MyPetCareTV.com, encourages pet owners everywhere to add “pet safety” to their holiday list and check it twice.
Year-round every room in a house can pose a potential threat to pet health when human foods, cleaning products, insecticides and rodenticides, and medicines meant for people are left out where pets can get into them. During the holidays inattention to things left unattended can double. Everyone is busy, caught up in the celebration of good food and good company: house guests may unwittingly allow the dog into a room he is usually forbidden to go, or feed the cat a “treat” to which he is allergic. The holidays bring out so many more potential hazards to pets than we may think. Pets may ingest tinsel, ribbons, and string, harming their digestion and intestinal tract. Especially harmful is fertilizer used in the water of Christmas tree stands which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
To pass the holidays in celebration, companionship, and good health, Dr. Bernadine Cruz and MyPetCareTV.com offer these tips to add to every pet owner’s list:
· Remind houseguests not to feed the pets human food, especially fatty foods and candy.
· Restrict pets to “safe areas” or outdoors during dinner parties when you are too occupied to watch them.
· If you have not already, install child safety locks on cabinets that contain cleaning supplies, paints, and medicines. Even hand soap and toothpaste can harm dogs and cats.
· Try to give your pet some focused attention each day to keep her or him calm, relaxed, and less likely to misbehave.
· Be sure pets wear identification tags at all times. That includes indoor pets, because with the hustle and bustle of having visitors, pets can wander outside without their owners being aware of their escape.
· To protect curious pets, be sure to keep candles safely out of the reach of paws, whiskers, and tails.
· Pets, especially dogs, tend to eat first and think later. A dangling, shinny tree ornament or holiday table decorations may be more than your pet can ignore. A nibble of a plant can lead to an upset stomach or worse. Decorations can lead to an obstruction in the digestive tract and require a visit to the veterinary emergency room.
Many people include their pets in holiday travel. Dr. Cruz suggests to keep the following tips in mind when traveling with the family pet:
• Pets should always wear identification when traveling indicating their permanent home and where they are visiting. Owners should also have a copy of their pet’s medical records, vaccine history, and a picture of the pet in case they are separated.
• If you are traveling by car with your pet, plan ahead to insure that you can find hotels that accept pets. AAA can usually direct you to these establishments. Be sure to bring your pet’s usual diet and water. You don’t want “traveler’s diarrhea” to put a damper on your road trip.
• If traveling by air, try to get a direct flight. Losing your luggage is one thing, but it could be a disaster if it is your pet. Check the expected temperature of your destination airport. If you need to have your pet travel in the cargo hold, bitterly cold temperatures may not be tolerated by your pet. We have all seen luggage carts stranded on the tarmac or sat in a plane for hours while it is delayed. Your pet could become fatally hypothermic.
• Though you may be welcomed with open arms when you go visit, your pet may not be. If you are staying with friends, make sure your pet is welcome.
• If you are staying at a pet-friendly hotel and you need to leave your pet unattended in your hotel room, place a “do not disturb” sign on the door. You do not want housekeeping to accidentally let your pet out. Be sure your pet is a good neighbor and does not bark excessively. Bring along an extra sheet for your pet to lounge on.