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Holiday Hints to Keep Pets Safe

December 23, 2018

By Sally Cragin

The holiday season is a time to spend with family and friends, including those four-legged ones. However, there are risks, and a mindful pet owner will want to be aware of pet safety.

Don’t

n Use foil tinsel on the tree. It’s irresistible to cats and, if ingested, could be fatal.

n Leave treats out. Dogs that are “chow hounds” will not hesitate to scarf down cookies, cheese, wrapped candy and chocolate.

n Allow pets to drink the water if you have a real tree.

n Expect all your guests “love” animals. Make sure visitors to your home are aware of four-legged residents.

Do

n Make sure cats and dogs have a safe place, especially when the tree goes up.

n Keep holiday plants out of reach of pets.

n Give safe gifts to your pets. At our home, we avoid treats made overseas (such as China) and any toy with shiny plastic, which could be removed and ingested. A birdfeeder visible from a window with a perch will make any cat alert and interested, for example.

n Wipe your dog’s paws if they go for walks on streets where salt is used.

n Spend a little more time with your pet. Chances are that their daily routine gets interrupted -- which could stress them out.

And as much as your child may beg for a pet for a holiday gift, bear in mind the enormous responsibilities that come from introducing a new animal into the household. Yes, the children are home from school, but will people be focused on the new cat or dog, and be willing to invest the time into reinforcing good behaviors, such as toileting and feeding habits? Training is also critical when a new dog arrives, and when schedules are disrupted, it’s more difficult to focus on the dog.

Finally, as much fun as it is to post photographs of your pet wearing antlers, hats, collars and so on, be thoughtful about how you do this. Dogs are much more flexible about “wearing” costume than cats. Professional photographer Ashley Green gives these tips for photographing your pet.

“Always have a treat or a toy to get their attention. I usually try to pose them near a window for natural light so I don’t have to use a flash,” Green says.

A really easy, no-stress, holiday photograph would be to provide a Christmas-themed blanket for your pet to rest on, and then wait until they’re taking a nap.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Sally Cragin is the director of Be PAWSitive: Therapy Pets and Community Education. Send questions to sallycragin@verizon.net .

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