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Keeping your pets safe during the holidays

The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate family – human and animal alike. However there are some seemingly harmless holiday traditions – decorations, treats, gifts – that can hurt your pet. Of course the ideal scenario is to train your pet to stay away from these potential dangers; however, this isn’t always realistic, especially with kittens and puppies. Here is a list of tips on how to make sure your special pet is safe this holiday season:

Holiday Plants. Holly, mistletoe and pointsettas are all toxic for pets and should be avoided or used with caution in pet households.

Holiday lights look beautiful hung over doorways, mantles and of course on trees. When my cat was a kitten, he used to like to chew on the plastic cord. No harm was done, but I had to be sure to keep on eye on him. If you see your pet going after the lights, keep him or her away from strands of lights when lit.

Ornaments. Some cats and dogs love batting ornaments around – again, if there are any in particular that seem to be especially attractive to your pets, move them out of reach or take them off the tree all together. When our cat was a kitten and our dog was a puppy, they both could not be left unattended with the Christmas tree and when we weren’t home, we would close off the room with the tree.

Tinsel is a big danger in a pet household. Looks very attractive – it’s sparkly, it dangles – perfect pet toy, especially for playful cats and kittens. Not only could they pull the whole tree down, but talk about a choking hazard. It’s safest to keep it up high on the tree or better yet, skip it all together.

Edible tree decorations. Pre-pets, I used to string popcorn and cranberries and hang candy canes on the tree. Looks pretty, but dangerous for pets. Again, a good idea to skip edible ornaments with curious pets.

Gifts. One year my husband wrapped some expensive chocolate for me and put it under the tree on Christmas Eve day. We went out for dinner and my lab “opened” the gift and was sick for two days. Talk about a fun Christmas. Make sure all edible gifts are placed out of your pet’s reach. I had a holiday party one year and a guest kindly brought banana bread and wrapped it so I didn’t know what it was. Again, my dog found it first and ingested the whole loaf, wrapping and all. Now I make a point of asking guests if their gift is edible and then put it up high. And then there is the paper and ribbon used to wrap presents. My cat is obsessed with ribbon and wrapping paper and chews on it incessantly. I have to again make sure I keep an eye on him and put any gifts away when necessary to keep him safe from swallowing the ribbon or paper.

Remember your pets. The holidays are busy with parties and shopping; often your pet’s usual schedule is disrupted. Remember he still needs his walks and play time with you. Don’t forget about him!

Happy holidays from the Pet Lovers at rachaelray.com!

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