pet safety tips

The biggest dangers to pets on Thanksgiving

Guest Post by Diana Guerrero

Do you give in to cute pesky pets at the dinner table? This Thanksgiving holiday pet lovers are urged to resist the intense gazes and vocal demands of pleading pets to keep them safe. Learn about the seven biggest risks to pets on Thanksgiving.

There can be deadly consequences for animals during the holidays. Holiday threats to animals can include seasonal decorations, ornamental lighting, ingestion of inappropriate or toxic items, excessive consumption of rich foods or harmful food, candle flames, and many other hazards.

Before you sit down to feast, take away temptation–from both guests and pets. If you feed pets before the guests arrive you reduce the temptation for begging and stealing. You can also use a pet gate or play pen to house the pet nearby, but provide a safety barrier.

One of the easiest ways to avoid trouble is to make sure your guests know the pet rules and discourage them from feeding critters scraps from the table. The best approach is to make sure any animal is occupied with a chewy or playmates in another room. Once the table is cleared, make sure pets cannot get to scraps or bones.

The biggest hazards to pets on Thanksgiving include:

  • Rich, fatty foods (turkey skins, gravy, etc,) can contribute to pancreatitis. This gland inflammation is painful and can be serious-requiring emergency veterinary assistance.
  • Cooked bones can splinter and cause tears or obstruction in a pet’s digestive tract.
  • Baking strings, if ingested, can create trouble if ingested by your pet.
  • Onions in holiday stuffing can lead to canine anemia if consumed by your dog.
  • Grapes and raisin toxins can cause kidney failure in pets.
  • Ingesting chocolate can cause seizures or kill your pet.
  • Caffeine and alcohol are also toxic for pets.

The solution? Keep all goodies out of reach!

Preventative safety measures are the best strategies so store leftover food out of reach and in tightly closed containers.  Next, make sure garbage cans are secured to keep critters out.

What can you do instead?

Pet households should consider providing appropriate chew toys or food occupation devices for pets during the holiday activities.  The Kong Company produces great products and there is a goodie dispenser that keeps dogs occupied which is purr-fect.  Look for great bird and cat toys that provide similar activity as most pet stores carry these products.

The investment and preparation can insure that you and your pets have a happy and healthy holiday.  Finally, just in case you have a problem, it never hurts to keep your emergency vet clinic or veterinary hospital number handy.  You never know when you will encounter a disaster during holiday festivities.

Diana L Guerrero is an animal expert with over 30 years of experience with both wild and domestic animals. Based in California, the Ark Lady runs multiple websites and works as a pet parenting coach, freelance writer, and professional speaker. Guerrero is often featured in the media as a pet expert and is the author of What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality: Inspiring Lessons of Wild & Tame Creatures and Blessing of the Animals: Prayers & Other Ceremonies Celebrating Pets & Other Creatures.

Winter Health Tips for Your Pets

let-it-snow

Do you enjoy winter and love to play in the snow, or would you rather curl up in front of a warm fireplace with your favorite feline?  Regardless of your preferences for this cold season, being aware of the challenges this time of year can bring for your pets can help keep them safe all winter long.

1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.

2.  During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm – dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

8.  Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him in tip-top shape.

9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Poison Control Center for more information.