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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Protect Your Pets From The Top 3 Holiday Safety Hazards

Nothing is worse than an emergency vet visit during the holidays. But many of the foods, decorations, and traditions we enjoy around Christmas and other winter holidays can be a health hazard for our pets. Here’s how you can enjoy a pet-friendly holiday this year.

1. Protect Pets From Getting Lost
Though pets can get lost any day of the year, having guests over for the holidays can put them at greater risk. If you host holiday parties, your dog or cat, especially if they are nervous around strangers, may slip out the front door while you’re greeting guests. Also, your guests may not realize that your cat is not an “outdoor cat,” or that your dog is not normally allowed out the front door.
As for purebred and other valuable or desirable pets, keep in mind that pet thieves may be on the rise during the holidays. They may intend to sell your pet for holiday cash, or may hope to give your pet to someone else as a gift.
Make sure your pets, even indoor cats, are microchipped and wear a collar with ID tags. If your pets normally go outside, make sure they are always supervised. Let guests know that they must lock doors and gates, and that they cannot let your pets outside without your permission.

2. Keep Your Pet Safe Around Decorations
Candles, baubles, and lights are what make our homes feel ready for the holidays, but they can be a hazard to cats and dogs. Some pets will become disinterested in holiday decorations after a few years when they learn they are not toys, but others will always need to be supervised to ensure that they do not chew, climb, or ingest the decor.
Lit candles are a hazard even around tame animals as they can easily tip over and start a fire. Pets with a long tail or long coat can catch fire if they brush up against a candle. It’s best to keep candles out of reach of pets, rather than on coffee tables and other low, accessible surfaces. If possible, use electric candles around pets; many flicker just like real candles, and are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
Electrical cords for lights and other decorations can be tempting to pets that like to chew. Chewing cords can result in electrocution, which can be fatal. A chewed cord can also cause a house fire. You can deter chewing with bitter training spray.

3. Keep Pets Away From Holiday Foods
Many traditional holiday foods, desserts, and sweets are a health hazard to cats and dogs. Even overindulgence in a relatively safe food can cause illness. For example, a bite of ham is unlikely to do your pet any harm, but if your aunt, uncle, nephew, and grandma each give your pet a bite, it can be enough to set off gastric upset or even pancreatitis. If you’ll be having guests, it’s best to keep your pet out of the dining room while food is being served. That way, you won’t have to worry about keeping your pet away from fallen scraps and doting guests.

Including Pets In Holiday Festivities
Though many holiday traditions are dangerous to pets, you do not have to exclude your pet from all of the fun. Hosting guests can be a great opportunity to socialize your pets and treat friendly pets to some extra attention.
Celebrate with some holiday themed treats, toys, and if your pet doesn’t mind dressing up, a festive dog bandana. And snuggle up on those cold winter nights with your pets while watching a holiday movie.