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Keeping pets safe during the holiday season

Nov 26, 2016 | Lifestyles

(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)

The holidays are right around the corner, and while pet parents remember to shower their furry family members with presents and special treats, keeping hazardous decorations and human snacks out of paw’s reach can slip the mind. Healthy Paws Pet Insurance — the #1 customer-rated provider of insurance for dogs and cats — examined claims from November 2015 to January 2016 to find out how pet parents can help keep pets safe during the holiday hustle and bustle.

Stomach-related conditions were most likely to send pets to the vet during the 2015 holiday season. Healthy Paws processed 5,100 stomach-related claims for the 2015 holiday season, reimbursing an average of $703 per incident for foreign body removal, the accidental swallowing of an object not meant to be consumed.

“Our trouble-making kitty, Bert, was partial to curling ribbon,” said Healthy Paws colleague Margaret Cooper. “We woke up on Christmas morning to find the ribbons on our presents littered with teeth marks! It made him sick, but luckily he never required surgery.”

Bottom line: watch out for pine needles, tinsel, ornaments and ribbon, as these goodies are just asking to be eaten! Even holiday plants like poinsettias, holly and mistletoe are poisonous to cats and dogs, so keep them on shelves or opt for faux plants.

More commonly, dogs and cats are surrounded by tempting-but-toxic treats, such as chocolate, fruitcake, alcohol and raisins. Avoid an emergency vet visit by supervising pets and keeping human food out of their reach. Try to keep pets out of the kitchen, where most of the holiday food prep happens.

Puppy and Kitty-proofing Tips:
When leaving pets home alone, restrict their roaming to a space free from decor or presents.
• A falling Christmas tree can seriously injure your cat or dog, so if you have a mischief-maker or tree-climber, stabilize the tree with additional hardware.
• Exercise caution with candles. A curious pet could end up with severe burns, or even knock the candle over with a wag of the tail and start a fire. Keep candles up on a shelf or only lit while you’re in the room.
• While the holidays can be stressful for you, additional guests can stress your pet out too. Make sure visitors are aware that you take your pet’s safety seriously. No sneaking snacks at the Christmas party, absolutely no sharing alcohol, and, should you have overnight guests, lock up their medications and personal products.

The most wonderful time of the year is also the most cluttered with safety dangers for curious pets. While pet insurance can help with expenses should the worst happen, being prepared for these possibilities can take that risk out of the equation.

(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)

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