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Christmas Season and Keeping Your Pet Healthy/Safe

As the holidays approach, paying attention to and preventing common holiday “ailments” for your pets will help alleviate some of the stress that can incur during this

joyous season. Getting Christmas cards sent, shopping for and wrapping gifts, attending various parties, and making travel plans to large family gatherings should be the focus of the season versus worrying about stressed or sick animals. Hopefully the following information will help you sail through the holidays without a whisker or hair out of place.

Pet-proofing your Christmas decorations can help prevent animals from getting tangled in them or becoming sick from ingesting them. You can still put out your favorite décor, just think “pet friendly”. Avoid hanging tree decorations on the lower part of the tree, wrap up loose cords, unplug cords when not in use, and maybe wrap them in electrical tape to add an extra layer of protection from pets that like to chew. Also be wary of loose tinsel, ribbons, ornaments, and hooks which can cause intestinal blockage if ingested.

Holidays offer eating temptations not only for people, but also for pets. From scarfing down people food to eating holiday plants like poinsettias and mistletoe, pets have an array of “treats” at their disposal that could make them sick and even prompt a visit to the vet. Vomiting (gastritis) and diarrhea (enteritis) are the top holiday related veterinary medical conditions. Keeping your pets away from fatty, high-calorie treats or anything high in salt or sugar will help avoid these messy side effects. It’s hard to resist those pleading eyes, especially when you sit down at the holiday table, but some human foods can put animals in danger and even cause death in severe cases. If you can’t resist the temptation to share your holiday meal, offer healthier items such as green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, and fresh cranberries. These are best cooked, but leave off the extra sauces. You can also get creative and make some very pet friendly treats such as holiday pupcakes and other exclusive pet treats.

If the holidays interrupt your routine and cause stress, your pet can experience disruption and stress too. Things to help would include: give your pet some private time – some animals may need to be away from all the excitement and noise, use a pet sitter – make advance arrangements with your vet for the pet sitter to bring your pet in if necessary, in addition to pet proofing your home. If you are traveling with your pet, restrain in either a carrier or harness, reward appropriate behavior in the car, such as sitting quietly, spray a natural pheromone product (Adaptil & Feliway have been proven to work) 15 min prior to traveling and before the pet is introduced to the car, in the area where the pet is expected to stay in the vehicle, and the carrier 10 min before needing to transport to the vehicle. These products also work diffused into a small room at home. Adaptil and Feliway help with other anxieties as well – separation anxiety, destructive behavior, excessive vocalization, inappropriate urination, noise phobias, ect.

Your veterinarian would also be a great source of information on more customizable ways to avoid and prevent stress, anxiety, and illness for your pets so that they may enjoy this amazing time of the year as well.

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