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Pet safety tips for the holiday season

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Holiday foods, trees, decorations and unusual schedules are just a few of the things that can cause harm and discomfort to pets. Dr. Spencer Ratnoff of Oakland Park Animal Hospital warns pet owners to take extra care that their pets stay safe during the holidays.

"With visitors coming and going out of the home, and with all the different types of foods and strings of lights, tinsel, plants, and so forth, there always seem to be pets getting into trouble this time of year,” said Dr. Ratnoff.

The first thing Dr. Ratnoff mentions is how pets frequently struggle with poisonings and gastrointestinal stress during the holidays. He urges pet owners to keep pets away from chocolate, onions, avocados, raisins, bread dough and sweets as these are toxic to pets. Pet owners should keep their pets on their normal pet food to avoid illnesses and accidental poisoning.

Dr. Ratnoff also cautions people to keep holiday decorations out of reach. Strings of lights and candles can cause shocks, burns and fire hazards. Ornaments, tinsel and wrapping paper can cause deadly intestinal blockages if curious pets swallow them. Trees should be anchored so they are not easy to knock over, and all holiday house plants should be kept out of reach to prevent poisonings.

Dr. Ratnoff adds that some pets can become stressed by all the holiday activity in the home. Some may accidentally escape out the door and get lost. He recommends that pets have a dedicated, quiet room or kennel somewhere in the home where they can feel safe and be secure. This should be a place where they can relax safely if they start to feel stressed. This is a particularly important during holiday parties in the home. Families who are leaving town or who will be extra busy over the holidays should consider pet boarding as well.

Finally, Dr. Rafnoff advises families who plan to adopt a pet over the holidays should make sure to prepare well for the pet before bringing the new pet home.

"Remember, pets are living creatures. They need proper food, water, shelter, veterinary care and most of all, lots of love,” said Dr. Ratnoff.

He also adds a word of caution to those who may be planning to give animals as gifts to friends or family members. Although many pets are waiting for their forever homes in shelters and rescue facilities, it might not be appropriate to surprise a person with a pet as a gift if they are unprepared for a new family member.

The Oakland Park Animal Hospital is located at 2200 West Oakland Park Boulevard, Oakland Park, FL 33311 Telephone: 954-644-7281

The hospital provides pet wellness care, pet surgery, grooming and boarding for all types of pets including dogs, cats, reptiles, birds, and other small mammals such as mice, gerbils and hamsters. To learn more, visit their website.

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Email info@GeminiUniversal.com if you have comments or a story you would like me to share. I currently write as NJ Animal Rescue Examiner, National Cats Examiner, National Pet Health Examiner, and National General Pets Examiner. Follow me on Twitter and visit us on Facebook for news and updates.

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