The bright colors and intoxicating scents of the holiday season are enough to transform any moping mutt or cranky cat from melancholy to downright jolly. Unfortunately, many of the delights and decorations of the holidays pose significant health risks to your companion animals.
As our schedules and environments change during the holidays, many companion animals react with curiosity by exploring new objects with their mouths. PETCO offers the following safety tips on keeping pets safe and healthy for many holidays to come.
Christmas Trees. Pine needles can get lodged in an animal's esophagus, making it painfully prickly for your pet to swallow. Even drinking the water from the Christmas tree base is enough to cause diarrhea, mouth sores, vomiting and loss of appetite. Cover your tree stand tightly with skirting and distract your companion animal from tree temptations with holiday toys and treats.
Deck the Halls. During the holidays, a bunch of fresh mistletoe may be a symbol of love, but to your curious cat or canine, temptingly red berries look more like a sweet treat. Eating the leaves and berries could cause a drop in blood pressure. Ivy can cause diarrhea, convulsions, and in some cases even death when eaten in large quantities. Holly, poinsettias and other poisonous plants are best kept away from inquisitive companion animals.
Tinsel and Lights. A flickering flame and shiny decorations intrigue companion animals. When lighting the menorah, advent wreath or decorative candles, keep pets in another room where paws and claws can't reach them. With electrical lights, remember to tape exposed electrical cords to walls or the floor to ensure no chewing or tripping. Also use Bitter Apple, a product that imparts a bitter taste to whatever object it is applied. This will also discourage your pet from unwanted chewing on dangerous cords. Tinsel and gift-wrap may look like fun toys but they can cause choking, upset stomach or even more serious problems.
Visions of Sugar Plums. Dogs may love to sniff your holiday goodies but theobromine, an active ingredient found in chocolate, could have a highly toxic effect. Don't ever offer chocolate as a treat. If your dog develops a sweet tooth and discovers an improperly stored stash, it could lead to a tragedy. Keep dogs' jaws busy with holiday rawhide candy canes and oversized bones such as those found at PETCO. If he or she shows signs of illness such as vomiting, loss of appetite, or excessive water intake, contact your veterinarian immediately. Proper nutrition and plenty of fresh, unfrozen water are essential to your companion animal's winter health.
Let it Snow. Pets, especially very young and older animals, can suffer stress, frostbite and hypothermia when their body temperature drops just a few degrees below normal. The tips of the ears, feet and tail are common areas to be affected. Watch for the formation of ice balls between your companion animal's toes and regularly trim the long hair between the footpads to avoid frostbitten feet. If you suspect frostbite, do not rub the area but simply apply warm moist packs and contact your veterinarian.
Antifreeze Alert. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which causes rapid and permanent kidney damage to your companion animal if it ingests even a very small amount. It takes only 6 milliliters of antifreeze to kill an average-sized cat. A cat can walk through an antifreeze puddle and ingest it while cleaning its paws. For a dog, it takes only 60 milliliters of antifreeze to kill a 30-pound pup. A dog could ingest this much with a few laps out of an open container or from a puddle on the garage floor.
They'll Be Home for the Holidays. If your pet cannot be in the house with you a proper shelter can be a lifesaver for a chilly dog or freezing feline. When selecting a doghouse or shelter for your cat, the space should only be as large as necessary for the animal to maneuver comfortably since the animals' own body heat will serve as a heater. You will have one chilled Chihuahua if he or she is hanging out in a Doberman-sized doghouse. Nitrogen plastic insulated pet houses work well to keep the heat inside the house with the animal. Some houses sold at PETCO even have an offset door that provides additional protection of your companion animals from winter drafts.
Remember the best present you can give your pets this holiday season is good health and some extra loving attention.
PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc., founded in 1965, is headquartered in San Diego and operates approximately 530 specialty pet food and supply stores in 40 states and the District of Columbia. Each store offers more than 10,000 high-quality pet-related products.
SOURCE: PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc.
Contact: Don Cowan, 858-657-2086,