2009 Holiday Safety: The Pet Lover’s Safety Guide

When considering safety precautions during the holidays, don’t forget about some of the most cherished members of the family – your pets. Just as you must take steps to protect young children, extra measures must be taken to ensure your pets remain healthy and safe during the holidays.

Here are some potential holiday hazards to be aware of when it comes to these four-legged friends:

Fancy Foods – Holiday cooking is a luxury that goes with the season, but for animals, it can lead to health problems. Do not let animals eat anything with chocolate (can cause gastrointestinal upset, heart arrhythmia and seizures), grapes, raisins or currants (can cause kidney failure) and avoid giving meat scraps under the table.

Potpourri – Filling a home with an inviting fragrance is fine for humans, but can cause major problems in pets. Some potpourri contains materials that are harmful when ingested, so keep it out of reach of animals. Liquid potpourri can be extremely dangerous for a variety of reasons. The oils can be toxic and if licked or ingested, can cause severe chemical burns, fever, difficulty breathing and tremors. The simmer pots used for this type of potpourri easily can burn an animal if contact is made.

Holiday Flowers and Plants – The most popular holiday flowers and plants, such as mistletoe and holly, are toxic when eaten. The best bet for animal lovers is to decorate with plastic, silk or non-irritating flowers and plants.

Decorations – The most dangerous holiday decoration for animals is the Christmas tree. Broken ornaments need to be cleaned up immediately to avoid cuts on paws or pieces being swallowed. If a pet chews on Christmas tree lights, medical attention is needed immediately. Some lights include chemicals that can irritate the eyes, skin, lungs and gastrointestinal tract. The lights also create a danger of electric shock. Lastly, is especially is threatening to cats. Tinsel can wrap around the tongue, block the airway passage, get caught in the stomach and cause severe damage to the intestinal tract. Oklahoma City resident Elizabeth Haas, 25, learned this the hard way when her cat had to undergo abdominal surgery due to tinsel.

“It was horrible,” said Haas. “Nothing makes you feel worse than finding out that you did something that hurt your cat. She came out of it just fine but it could have ended so much worse.”

Making simple changes around the home this holiday can save beloved pets from unnecessary trips to the vet.

To learn more about SafetySkills, visit http://www.safetyskills.com.

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