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Mon, Oct. 14

Keep your pets safe and healthy during the holidays

Courtesy<p>
This photo exemplifies what not to do at Christmas if you have pets: Don’t leave wrapping on the floor or decorate low tree branches with potentially dangerous ornaments or ribbons.

Courtesy<p> This photo exemplifies what not to do at Christmas if you have pets: Don’t leave wrapping on the floor or decorate low tree branches with potentially dangerous ornaments or ribbons.

Christmas and New Year's is a time for families and friends to get together.

Now also is the time to plan for the safety and well-being of family pets - dogs and cats - when lots of strangers are around, according to Kenneth Skinner, a veterinarian at Prescott Animal Hospital.

Skinner said that when decorating one's house for Christmas, people should remember that the plants and other things they are bringing into the house could be poisonous to their pets.

"Poinsettas, lilies, mistletoe and daffodils are toxic to dogs and cats," he said.

In addition, veterinarians urge people to keep their pets in mind when decorating the Christmas tree. While it may look funny, they recommend placing ornaments higher on the tree, out of the pet's reach.

Veterinarians at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania remind people that when pets swallow ornament hooks, they can damage their mouth or esophagus.

They said dough ornaments, because of high salt content, are bad for pets. If pets eat them, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and, in severe cases, seizures.

Skinner said glass ornaments are dangerous to pets because they can choke on them. Also, most break easily, causing the pets to ingest the splinters, cutting their mouths or intestines.

Ribbons and tinsel are also bad news for dogs and cats, Skinner said, because they can cause blockage.

People need to watch Christmas lights on trees and on the inside and outside of the house because the shiny bulbs attract them and puppies and cats like to chew on the cords. "They can get shocked or hurt badly," he said.

Skinner said after opening the Christmas gifts, people should clean up the gift-wrapping and ribbons immediately. If their pets eat some of them, it can cause blockages and vomiting.

Veterinarians urge people to choose toys for their pets that they cannot swallow.

He also urges pet owners to watch what they and their guests feed them during the holidays. The best rule, Skinner said, is not to feed them any people food or candy.

"Don't let your guests feed your pets chocolate as it is toxic to both cats and dogs," Skinner said.

Fire, like fireplaces and wood stoves, is dangerous to pets, he said. "We used to see a lot of cats that burned their feet when they jumped on woodstoves."

Pet owners who use candles during the holidays should place them where their pets cannot accidentally knock them over, causing a fire in the house or setting themselves on fire

He urges people with fireplaces to place a screen in front of them to keep their pets away.

Skinner also reminds people to not over-exercise their pets and to make sure they get some quiet time.

It is important to make sure guests do not accidentally let pets out when entering or leaving the house.

He urges people to call a veterinarian immediately if they think their pet has swallowed something it should not have and is vomiting, has diarrhea or is refusing to eat.

Contact the reporter at jeherrmann@prescottaz.com

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