Behavior Tip of the Month
The holidays are coming!
They're a time of festivities, food, fun and family. However, for our pets, the season can be deadly. Every year thousands of pets die or have to be rushed to the veterinary hospital. All pets are at risk but especially the young ones.
They are more apt to investigate the environment by tasting and chewing. There are so many new and exciting holiday additions to the house. Perhaps you have a Christmas tree complete with ornaments, tinsel, lights and electrical cords. Lovely Poinsettia plants, Mistletoe and Holly may adorn your living room. Presents may be under the tree or Menorah, wrapped with gilded paper and ribbons. Chocolate candy or Chanuka "gelt" may be part of your celebrations. All of these can be dangerous to your pet.
Chocolate, Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Holly are actually poisonous to cats and dogs. Chewing electrical cords can be fatal. Ingesting foreign objects, such as tinsel and ribbon can cause severe internal injuries, intestinal blockage and even death.
How can you prevent your pet from becoming a statistic? Here are my top 10 recommendations.
1. Wait until after the holidays to bring your new puppy or kitten home. When the festivities are over, you will have the time to devote to your new arrival.
2. Pay attention to your resident pet. Because of the holiday excitement, pets may be ignored. Dr. Bruce Persky of San Carlos Veterinary Hospital says this is a leading cause of holiday pet problems. "When owners don't pay attention to their pets, they can get into mischief." Persky says that some owners even forget to feed their cat or dog. During the night, the pet eats chocolate candy, tinsel, wrapping paper, etc.
3. Create a "safe-place" for your cat or dog. This should be a comfortable area with your pet's bed, water, food bowl and toys. Separate this holiday-proof haven from decorations, candy and festivities. Don't allow excited children to bother your pet in his quiet-zone.
4. Don't feed rich party leftovers and treats to your animals. Dr. Persky says, "In elderly pets, this can lead to pancreatitis- a potentially fatal disease".
5. Make dangerous holiday decorations taste and smell offensive to your dog or cat. Put dabs of menthol or citronella on tempting items. Usually pets hate these smells and will stay away. Cats hate citrus. You can spray forbidden items with orange or lemon room deodorizers. Double sided sticky tape can be used on electrical cords. Then sprinkle the tape with cayenne pepper, Chinese mustard, or bitter alum. Yuck! Spray your Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Holly plants with soapy water. Pets usually hate the taste but soapy water is good for plants. A good cheap taste deterrent is Listerine, or something like it. Spray prohibited items daily.
6. To keep pets away from the tree, buy plastic carpet protectors. They come in the form of runners. Turn them upside down so the nubby side is facing up. Place them all around the tree and in any other off-limit areas. Also, anchor your Christmas tree so it won't fall over. Check continually for broken glass ornaments on the floor. They could result in cut paws and internal damage if swallowed.
7. Don't let pets around lit candles without supervision. Fire and dripping wax can cause severe burns.
8. Give your pet some new toys. Hollow rubber ones are good for dogs. You can stuff the toy with kibble or canned food. Rotate the new toys everyday so your pet is always interested in them. Smear new toys with food or catnip. Hopefully they'll be more tempting than holiday decorations.
9. Play with your pets 20 minutes twice a day. Exhaust them. A tired dog or cat is much less likely to get into mischief
10. Lastly, try to keep your young pets away from those holiday temptations. You can use baby gates to keep pups out of the living room. A cat tree may satisfy your feline's curiosity by allowing her to safely see what's going on. In drastic cases, buy a small security device that makes a loud sound when Kitty walks by. Don't use this if your pet is very sensitive or fearful. You don't want to terrorize her.
I hope that by following these suggestions, you and your pets will have a "peticularly" happy, healthy and safe holiday.
Best Friend Behavior Counseling and Training
San Diego, Ca.
"Positively teaching pets and their people since 1977"
Do you have a question for Carole? You can reach her at this email address - firstname.lastname@example.org Perhaps she will use it in an upcoming article on this Web site.
The information contained on this site is in no way intended to replace that of proper veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It is meant to provide resource, so that we can better understand canine health related issues.