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12 pet safety tips for a happier holiday season

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In a December 2, 2013, article by the Associated Press, the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association urges pet owners to make their homes pet-friendly during the upcoming season.

What should concerned pet owners look for in a holiday safety check? As you check off the "12 Days of Christmas," consider these 12 safety tips.

  1. Bones from turkey, ham, lamb and other meats pose a choking hazard; large or sharp bones can damage the intestinal tract and require surgery.
  2. Artificial sweeteners and chocolate—particularly dark or baking chocolate—can be dangerous for dogs.
  3. Alcoholic beverages: According to Pet Poison Hotline, even small amounts of alcohol, especially in small dogs and cats, can cause life-threatening toxicity with neurological depression, hypothermia (low body temperature), hypotension (low blood pressure), seizures and respiratory failure.
  4. Toxic holiday plants such as holly, mistletoe, poinsettia and lilies can be life-threatening to animals.
  5. Tinsel, garland, and packing Styrofoam can be dangerous if ingested.
  6. Broken glass or fiberglass fragments from ingested ornaments can damage the stomach and intestines.
  7. Ingestion of pine needles can lead to intestinal irritation, or even an intestinal obstruction.
  8. Lights can be dangerous due to electrocution (if the cords chewed).
  9. Ribbons are dangerous if ingested by both dogs and cats. They can cause an intestinal obstruction, and even severe damage to the intestines, which can become life threatening.
  10. Ice melts and anti-freeze: Ice melts can damage pets' footpads. Anti-freeze can be toxic at low levels and can become life threatening very quickly. Both are available in pet friendly formulas.
  11. Liquid potpourri and burning candles: In addition to the risk of fire or injury from hot liquid, ingested liquid potpourri can cause severe ulceration of the mouth and esophagus.
  12. Toys with small parts or decorations with small objects can cause intestinal obstruction, which can require surgery.

When you hang the garland and trim the tree this year, don't forget your furry friends. In addition to the goodies that fill their stockings, give your pet the gift of safety.

As noted by Chicago Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. Alexis Newman, “The holidays can be as much fun for pets as for their families. However, it is important to monitor your pets since any of the mentioned concerns can become life-threatening. If you have any questions regarding what is safe for your pet, it is important to consult with your veterinarian. Take precautions to ensure your family and your pet(s) have a happy and healthy, holiday season!”

For more articles by this author, click here.

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