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Focus on pet safety while celebrating holiday season

Of course you want to include your furry companions in the festivities, but as you celebrate this holiday season, try to keep your pet's eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. And be sure to steer them clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations:

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Christmas tree: Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water — which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.

Skip the tinsel: Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching "toy" that's easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It's best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

No feasting: By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol. And make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

Toy joy: Looking to stuff your pet's stockings? Choose gifts that are safe.

Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallowing the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with chew toys that are almost indestructible.

Long, stringy things are a feline's dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that's too big to swallow, a catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer.

Forget the mistletoe and holly: Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies, can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

That holiday glow: Don't leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface.

Wired up: Keep wires, batteries and ornaments out of reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth.

Put the meds away: Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.

A room of their own: Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle.

New Year's noise: Keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat's intestines, if ingested. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears.

Focus on pet safety while celebrating holiday season 12/17/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 17, 2012 1:36pm]
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