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Tips to keep pets safe for the holidays

As we approach the holiday season, pet owners must remember the potential dangers to your pets during the celebrations.

"The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy for our families, but in preparing for the season, many pet owners run the risk of exposing their pets to household dangers that could present potential life-threatening hazards to their pets," said veterinarian Lori Pasternak of Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care (

Petplan, a company that insures nearly 100,000 dogs and cats across the country, has found its claims for unexpected food-related illnesses soar over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. To avoid a trip to the vet, be aware of these hazards:

Table scraps: Table scraps, turkey bones, gravy and sugary sides can lead to a visit to the vet. When it comes to mealtimes and treats at Thanksgiving, or any time of year, consistency and moderation are the orders of the day.

Bones: Leftovers — especially bones from the finished feast — should be carefully kept out of paw's reach. Soft bones, like those in poultry, can splinter and cause obstructions in your pet's digestive system. Resist the urge to throw Fluffy or Fido a bone, and be sure to take out the trash promptly.

Plants and flowers: Seasonal flora can spoil dinner, too. Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) can cause irritation, shock and organ damage if ingested in high amounts; likewise, Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata), although less toxic, can cause mild vomiting, diarrhea and possibly depression. Use caution when selecting your holiday decor to ensure it doesn't cause problems for curious pets. The poinsettias many choose to use as holiday centerpieces are also toxic to most household pets if they are chewed and swallowed in large enough quantities.

Decorations: Pet owners should keep decorations and ornaments higher up on trees so they are not consumed by pets. Ingested garland or trim might look like a tasty snack, but they can and will get stuck in your pet's intestines, requiring immediate surgery. Exposed cords from electric lights can cause electrocution or oral burns if chewed.

Gift wrap: Keep gift wrapping materials away from your cat. If a cat should starting gnawing on the ribbon, it will literally "stitch" the cat's intestines together as it is being passed through the gut.

Tips to keep pets safe for the holidays 11/21/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 21, 2011 3:46pm]
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