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Steer clear of holiday hazards

Many holiday decorations and food can be harmful to pets. To avoid trips to the emergency room, the American Kennel Club's Mary Burch, Ph.D., offers the following tips for making this festive season safe for your dog. Burch is a director of the Canine Good Citizen program, and a certified applied animal behaviorist.

Watch the decorations

• Avoid using food such as popcorn or cranberry strands when decorating your home or Christmas tree. If your dog eats them, they can cause blockages, which can require surgery to remove.

• Make sure to place anything shiny, such as ornaments, tinsel, glass bulbs, and things that sparkle and catch your dog's eye, higher up on your tree where he can't reach them. Ingesting ornaments can cause major problems for your dog.

• Real Christmas trees, poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe all can be dangerous for your dog. Consider having an artificial tree, but if you do have a natural one, make sure your dog doesn't swallow the pine needles or drink the tree water which can cause stomach irritation. Poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe should be kept out of your dog's reach, as they can be poisonous to pets.

• Exposed wires from holiday lights pose a threat to your dog if he chews on them, he could be electrocuted. Tape indoor wires to the wall and outdoor wires to the side of the house where your dog can't reach them.

• Get rid of all wrapping paper, bows and ribbons as soon as you are finished opening presents. If swallowed, yarn, ribbon or string on gifts can cause intestinal obstruction that often requires surgery.

Human food is for humans

• Common holiday foods such as butter, meat, and candy can make your dog very ill. Take care to keep these foods out of reach.

• Chocolate is another food that is a big part of the holiday season, and a common cause of sickness in dogs. Baking chocolate or dark chocolate in particular can cause serious health problems in your dog.

For more safety tips, visit the Canine Good Citizen blog at caninegoodcitizen.

Steer clear of holiday hazards 12/19/11 [Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011 8:34am]
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