Home General Pet Entries Christmas and Year End Holidays: Pet Safety Tips, Part 3

Christmas and Year End Holidays: Pet Safety Tips, Part 3

The holiday season is coming to a close, but you still need to take care to keep your pets out of harm’s way during these last holiday activities. Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s means more family get togethers and parties.

Avoid the Dog Flu

It’s flu season again and a highly contagious strain of the dog flu that appeared in 2005 may show up again. Last year, cases were confirmed in 10 states, a number that could increase this year.  The flu virus is highly contagious, and nearly 100 percent of dogs exposed will catch the flu.  Although not generally considered deadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 5 to 8 percent of the dogs that become infected will die from the illness.  Dogs are exposed to the virus in social circles including dog parks, doggie day cares and kennels.  Symptoms mimic kennel cough, including cough and nasal discharge.  www.petsit.com.

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I am giving you this article from Pet Sitter’s International about keeping your pets safe for the holidays, and I will include a little more at the end.

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“Pet Sitters International Offers Tips For Protecting Pets During the Holidays”

King, North Carolina, December 20, 2006-

As people everywhere prepare to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, Pet Sitter’s International, the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters, reminds pet owners that preventable accidents are the number one cause of death for pre-senior pets.  Consider incorporating these four suggestions into any holiday plans that involve pets:

People Food is for People

It is always tempting to share yummy morsels of people food with pets, especially while enjoying the excesses of the holidays.  Although slipping a begging pooch food from the kitchen table may be well intended, human food, in fact, can be unhealthy and even harmful to pets.  Foods laden with fat can be hard on pets’ digestive systems.  Even small amounts of rich foods can trigger bouts of diarrhea and/or vomiting for pets.

Fatty foods also carry the same health risks for animals as they do people, only on a larger scale.  Such treats may also lead to reluctance of some pets to return to their normal diets.  Alcohol, chocolate, caffeinated beverages and treats with artificial sweeteners like ‘xylitol’ are definite no-no’s.  For pets, these items have the potential to cause illness or even death.

PSI recommends removing pets from areas where holiday foods will be present.  Provide a secure and comfortable room for your pet to play in during holiday functions.  Trash cans containing food scraps should be emptied outside prior to letting pets return to the common areas of the home.  Consider hiring a professional pet sitter to care for your pet during your holiday functions or while you are away visiting family and friends.

Practice Discretionary Decorating

Lights, candles, ACCIDENT!  Strands of Christmas lights, flickering candles, shiny ornaments and decorations can be an invitation for disaster for people with pets.  Holiday plants like Christmas rose, hibiscus, holly, mistletoe (berries) and poinsettia are poisonous to cats or dogs, if ingested.  Equally, the water found in the basin of Christmas tree stands is a serious hazard for household animals.  A pet’s natural curiosity will almost certainly be aroused by any new additions to its home’s normal environment, so it is up to the pet owner to take the proper precautions to avoid an accident.

PSI recommends pet owners unplug lights and motorized decorations before leaving home.  Any fragile or potentially hazardous decorations or plants should be placed out of your pet’s reach.  Items that pose an obvious fascination for pets should also be removed.  Lit candles should be extinguished when pets are present. To avoid exploratory chewing, gifts containing food items should be placed in a closet.

Replace traditional tree stands with an enclosed tree stand, or cover the current stand with a tree skirt to lessen the likelihood of pets drinking the water.  Owners with rambunctious pets should secure their trees to a wall using wire or twine. This will help avoid injuries associated with a tree toppling over.

PSI recommends dog owners limiting their dogs’ interactions with other dogs during this time.  Pet owners who are traveling over the holidays should consider hiring a professional pet sitter to come into their come and care for their pet while they are away.  Should pets exhibit symptoms of dog flu, veterinary treatment is recommended to help suppress the symptoms and treat any secondary infections.

Celebrations Can Scare Pets

New Year’s festivities require special planning for pets.  Boisterous party activities, noisemakers and fireworks can cause great distress for pets causing them to panic and attempt to escape their surroundings.

PSI recommends placing pets in a comfortable and secure room during celebrations. The addition of background noise from a television or radio can help sooth your pet’s anxiety during these times.  Planning ahead for will help keep your pet feeling safe and secure while you are ringing in the new year.

*Source: ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center

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About PSI

Pet Sitters International is the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters serving more than 7,400 independent professional pet-sitting businesses in the United States, Canada and abroad.  For more information on PSI please visit

I also want to add the following things that will help keep your pets safe. They are pretty much the same as for the Thanksgiving celebrations, but they pertain to the upcoming holidays as well.

How do your pets react to large numbers of people, and to possible strangers? You do not want your guests feeling uneasy, or threatened by an aggressive pet. And, you do not want your pets to be all over your guests when they are just trying to enjoy their time with you. If your pets will be aggressive, or very overly friendly, or if this will cause fear and stress for your pets, then confine them in a nice quiet part of the house where they can be comfortable and stress free.

Remember, onions and garlic will cause anemia in pets. Anemia is the reduced ability of the red blood cells to carry oxygen. Chocolate is toxic to your pets and can cause heart problems, even leading to death. Rasins and grapes are toxic to pets. These are linked to kidney failure.

The cooking string from your turkey or roast can cause major problems if your pet swallows it. Instead of the string passing through, the stomach or intestine actually ‘climbs up’ the string, essentially turning itself inside out. If your pet does swallow string, and you see it hanging out of your pet’s mouth, do not pull it out! This can cause the same thing I just mentioned. Take your pet to the emergency vet immediately.

The same thing can happen with tinsel from the christmas tree. Speaking of turkey and roast, do not feed your pet the bones left over from the turkey carcass, roast, or ham. When cooked, bones become brittle and can splinter. These splinters can cause major internal problems in your pets. They can also cause an obstruction. Just don’t do it.

When the day is over, make sure to keep all garbage out of reach of your pets. If your pet gets into the garbage, they may get hold of any of the things I have just talked about.

If your pet will be out and about during the festivities, feed them before you and your guests sit down to eat. Doing this will help curb your pet’s tendency to beg. You may want to keep them separated during the meal if they tend to beg. You may also want to give them something to keep them busy while you are enjoying your meal. Give them their favorite toy, or give them a Kong filled with their favorite treat to keep them occupied.

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