The Not So Secret Life of Pets 6

The change in the weather and displays in the stores signal the holidays are just around the corner. We happily look forward to fun times with our family, friends…and pets! It is no secret that many of our wonderful winter holiday traditions can pose threats to our pets. So when making your plans, consider your pet’s comfort, health and safety.

HOLIDAY TRAVELS: Traveling on airlines and trains can be stressful for some pets, resulting in anxious behavior or even illness. Know your pet’s temperament beforehand and travel by car if that is a better option. Traveling pets must have a microchip and a well-fitted collar with their identity tag, all with your current cell phone number. Pets should be restrained in the car with a pet safety harness or in a secure carrier or crate. A better alternative for your pets could be to hire a professional pet sitter who is licensed, insured and bonded, and will care for your pets in the comfort, security and familiar surroundings of your own home, maintaining their usual routine, while you are away on your travels.

HOLIDAY DECORATIONS: Ensure your holiday tree is securely anchored. Tightly cover the tree-watering base container as fertilizers and stagnant water can make pets sick. Place glass ornaments higher on the tree and keep fragile decorations out of reach. Avoid using shiny tinsel or sparkly ribbon that attracts cats and can be harmful if ingested. Be mindful that pets can get into presents so keep gifts that could be harmful to pets out of reach.

HOLIDAY PLANTS: Holly, mistletoe, pine needles and a variety of lilies can be harmful to your pets if eaten, causing serious gastrointestinal upset, cardiovascular problems or kidney failure. The popular poinsettias can usually cause mild to moderate gastrointestinal upset, so a good idea is to keep them out of your pet’s reach. (As needed, call your vet’s hotline or for a fee, call ASPCA Poison Control at 888-426-4435.)

HOLIDAY FOODS: For your pet’s health and safety, ensure the bits of turkey or other meats you offer are boneless and well cooked. Limit the amount of fat. Avoid giving chocolate, any foods sweetened with zylitol, or food heavily seasoned with sage or other herbs to pets, all of which can cause severe health problems. Do not leave plates of food or alcoholic beverages unattended, especially when your attention might be focused on guests.

HOLIDAY WEATHER: Freezing weather may be rare where you live but if you venture to local mountains or beyond for winter fun with your pets, be aware that if you are cold, they could be cold too, especially shorter-haired dogs, so provide a well-fitting sweater. Dogs’ paws could become raw or sore if they are not accustomed to ice and snow, so have them wear booties for protection. Always provide plenty of water after outdoor winter play.

Above all, do not ever leave your pet in the car unattended. Wishing you and your pets a safe winter and happy holidays!