Pet Holiday Hazards. For most of us the holidays are a time to eat, drink and be merry with good friends and family. I wanted to offer my fellow pet lovers tips to refresh your pet festivity IQ and offers some helpful hints so the Yule tide traditions are as merry for you as they are for your pets. Holiday Pet Basics: Be sure your pet is healthy, has his or her ID tags and collar, which can be personalized for your dog or cat, take a few precautions and use lots of common sense. Try to decorate your home according to the age, activity level and temperament of your pets and children. If your pets are young and active, homemade expendable ornaments are a great, safe and fun family project.
Holidays are hectic for all of us and that means stress for pets. To minimize stress try to keep your pet’s diet, snacks and routine as close to normal as possible. Be sure your pet has a quiet place to go so he can relax when he’s had enough. This helps avoid behavioral problems especially with children.
Dr. Carol’s TIP: Herbal Stress Remedy: Bach’s 5 Flower Rescue Remedy is a natural mixture of five flowers. Place a few drops in your pet’s mouth, food or water bowl. It is safe and effective to relieve anxiety for you and your pet.
Dr. Carol’s TIP: Don’t Give Pets as Gifts!
Pet Tips for Your Christmas tree: Your Christmas tree presents several hazards for cats, curious kittens and playful puppies. Anchor your tree so it’s secure with 200 pound invisible fishing line. This works well to anchor your tree. Run it from the trunk of your tree to a hook in your wall or ceiling.
Pine needles are sharp. They easily penetrate pet’s tongues, paws and intestines. The needles are painful and easily lacerate intestines, leading to emergency vet visits. Be sure to clean up well and discard them.
Dr. Carol’s TIP: Remedy to deter pet needle eaters: Fill a spray bottle with a mixture of red pepper sauce and water (50/50) then spritz your tree. It won’t harm your tree. Pets do not care for the smell need-less-to-say, the taste is even worse.
Christmas tree water usually contains pine needles, and if the tree has fertilizers and/or preservatives in it and your pet drinks it, stomach upsets usually occur. Stagnant water is a great breeding ground for bacteria, and if pets drink it, they often become ill with vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Net Your Tree: Placing a net around your finished holiday tree helps to avoid all kinds of thorny holiday pet issues particularly with cats.
Safety Tips for Lights, Electric Cords, Candles and Fragrances
Lights should be UL approved and be sure to turn them off when you’re not home and at night while you’re asleep.
Electric and Extension Cords are popular chew toys for curious puppies. Hide them in empty wrapping paper tubes and cover them up with cute foil and/or tape them securely to floor. Buy pet proof extension cords, which you can spray with bitter apple or tobacco sauce.
Candles and Menorah’s are fragrant and enticing to pets. Place them up high out of paw reach. They are a fire hazard and the fumes are toxic to birds. Wagging tails easily knock over candles and may burn your pet or worse yet start a fire.
Fireplace screens are a good idea especially with cats. Many felines enjoy using your fireplace as a litter box.
Pet Holiday Decoration Tips:
Use red velvet bows instead of hooks to hang ornaments.
Ornaments: use non breakable-pet proof, home-made ornaments. It’s safe for pets and fun for the whole family. Try using cardboard, plastic, dried non toxic flowers, fabric, wood and pinecones. Put small breakable ornaments up high on your tree.
Use two tone ribbons instead of garland, tinsel, and angel hair, especially with cats as they love it. Cats enjoy nibbling it and once swallowed; this often blocks the intestines and leads to vomiting and a costly emergency visit with abdominal surgery. Vets call this a “linear foreign body” because that’s how your cat’s intestines appear on x-rays after ingesting garland, tinsel and/or angel hair.
Liquid potpourri, which is usually placed in decorative bowls and simmering pots and sachets are popular during the holidays but dangerous, especially for cats. The pots spill easily if your cat brushes against it. Then when your cat grooms him or herself to remove the potpourri, it can lead to ulceration and damage to your cat’s mouth, skin and eyes. If this occurs, give your cat a bath in warm ivory soap, wrap him or her in a clean, warm towel, offer some warm milk and call your vet. Most cats recover in a few days.
Keep aluminum foil and cellophane candy wrappers away from your pets. They can cause vomiting and intestinal blockage.
Batteries should be kept away from your pets, batteries contain corrosives can ulcerate your pets mouth, tongue and intestines if bitten, chewed on or swallowed.
Pet Holiday Foods and Beverages Toxic to Dogs and/or Cats
Don’t allow your pet access to holiday spreads especially if you’ve got a chow hound.
Alcoholic beverages cause pets to get drunk, weak, become depressed and may lead to a coma.
Yeast Dough is a no-no. Uncooked raw yeast dough is problematic, especially if your dog decides to eat it. Once ingested, the raw dough rises in your dog’s stomach and leads to a painful stomach ache, bloat and vomiting. Dogs can become disoriented and depressed. The breakdown product of rising dough is alcohol, which can cause alcohol poisoning. Many cases require your dog to undergo costly surgical removal of the dough. Even small amounts if eaten can be quite dangerous for dogs.
Chocolate (bakers, semisweet, milk & dark) for dogs: if eaten this can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and an elevated heart rate. This can occur if a 10 pound dog eats ¼ ounce of baking chocolate. This is not usually a problem in cats.
Tobacco products can be fatal for dogs and cats. Signs of nicotine poisoning usually develop in 15-45 minutes. Signs in pets include excitement, salivation, panting, vomiting and diarrhea. Then muscle weakness, twitching, depression, coma, and even cardiac arrest may occur.
Coffee (ground, beans, and chocolate covered espresso beans) Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant, leading to restless pets with increased heart rates, tremors and/or epileptic seizures.
Macadamia Nuts can cause muscular weakness, depression, vomiting, and disorientation along with tremors, stomach pain and muscle stiffness in dogs. This usually lasts from one to three days and most recover are fine. This has not been reported to occur in any other species.
Grapes and Raisins are toxic to pets: The exact mechanism of action and toxic principal are still being determined by the ASPCA Poison Control Center but eating large amounts can cause kidney failure in dogs and there have been a few reported cases of kidney failure in cats that ate raisins.
Watch for the string used to tie up your turkey or roast as well as the little red “pop up” thermometers. Dogs and cats love to eat these tasty treats which can cause intestinal blockage.
Dr. Carol’s TIP: No Bones, because they can splinter and lacerate your pet’s intestines.
Dr. Carol’s TIP: Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which has a calming effect for people and pets. That’s part of the reason why most of us feel a little sleepy after our Thanksgiving feast. If your dog or cat is nervous because of all the festivity, give him a little turkey to calm his nerves.
Healthy Holiday Pet Foods: Many of us tend to overindulge over the holidays and our waist lines as well as those of our pets will pay the price. There are however certain elements of traditional holiday meals that are as healthy for you as they are for your pet.
Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A. It is also a good source of fiber. Pumpkin seeds are high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Those are the good fats. It is low in fat. The problem, however, is pumpkin pie. It is a high-calorie food because it is made with eggs, sugar, evaporated milk, and baked in a high-fat pie crust. Try making a Pet’unkin Tofu Pie as a low fat alternative, and you and your pet can both enjoy this tasty treat together!
Cranberries contain lots of vitamin C as well as fiber and manganese. In addition, they contain an antioxidant that prevents the adhesion of bacteria to the urinary tract. This can prevent urinary tract infections in cats and dogs.
Sweet potatoes contains vitamin C and beta-carotene and potassium. The skin is a great source of fiber and beta-carotene.
Green beans are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. They also contain vitamin A, fiber, potassium, folate and iron.
Pet’unkin Tofu Pie:
Pet’unkin Tofu Pie Crust Ingredients:
• 2 cups Kashi Good Friends cereal
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• ¾ cup shredded coconut
• ½ cup organic apple juice concentrate Filling Ingredients
• 1 pound firm tofu, drained (use silken tofu for a creamier texture)
• 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin (~ 2 cups of fresh-baked pumpkin works well too)
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup honey:local varieties are best
• 1 cup pure maple syrup
• 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice blend
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
2. Place the Kashi Good Friends cereal in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or process in a food processor or blender until it is semi-fine in texture.
3. Place the cereal in a bowl and add the remaining crust ingredients. Stir until well mixed. Place in a lightly oiled 9-inch glass pie pan and press into place with a spoon or rubber spatula. Bake at 375°F for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before filling.
4. Blend all filling ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Pour into the 9-inch pie crust. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 1 hour. Chill before serving to help to firm up the pie. Now, you and your pet can both enjoy this tasty treat together.
Be sure your pet is healthy as dogs and cats, just like people are more susceptible to health issues in cold weather.
Give your pet lots of extra attention this holiday season, so he or she doesn’t feel like he’s been forgotten and left out of the festivities. Let your pet get into the gift of giving this holiday season by making a donation of pet food, litter, or toys to your local pet shelter or favorite pet charity and put it in your pet’s name.
Always be prepared! Keep the number of a local pet emergency facility posted clearly and it’s a good idea to have the phone number of the ASPCA Poison Control Center handy just in case. Their toll free phone is 1-888-426-4435. The poison control center is open 24/7 and a fee may or may not be charged to address pet poison emergency calls.
Remember the best pet gift of all is your LOVE!