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Tips for a happy, healthy holiday season with your dog

Dec 24, 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!)

It’s that time of year again, where you celebrate the holidays with loved ones and the furry friends that are part of your family. But with colder weather, less daylight and holiday parties filled with a few too many calories, the most wonderful time of the year can also take its toll, and it’s important to give your dog the care he needs, too. To help you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season with your furry friends, Beneful teamed up with Dr. Kurt Venator, director of veterinary strategy and programs at Purina, to offer these tips:

Go light on the treats. While this season brings many tasty meals for you, it’s important to not over-indulge your dog. Give treats responsibly -make sure you don’t give too many or pieces that are too large, and avoid table scraps (although a bite of fresh carrot or celery won’t hurt). Also, be sure to keep festive sweets like chocolate or nuts out of nose-range, and don’t let your dog get near dishes that have onions or garlic, which can be toxic.

Run wild. Weather permitting, spend as much time as you can outdoors. Take your dog on a long walk, or visit your favorite dog park to play together and work off holiday meals and extra cookies (or treats). Just be sure to clean Fido’s paws afterwards if you’re walking on salted sidewalks, and look for signs he’s ready to head inside, like lifting his paws from the ground. If you can’t get outside, engage in some indoor games and playtime to give your dog the exercise and enrichment he needs.

Avoid the mistletoe. While beautifully festive, some holiday plants can be poisonous or toxic, especially to children and dogs. Steer clear of holly, mistletoe, and amaryllis — all of which can make your dog sick if ingested. If eaten by mistake, be sure to contact your veterinarian immediately.

Give them the good stuff (that’s actually meant for them). You look forward to those holiday meals all year — from ham to turkey, sweet potatoes to stuffing — so don’t forget to fill your dog’s bowl with food that’s just as good. Beneful dry dog foods are a great choice — they come in a variety of flavors, offer real beef or chicken as the number one ingredient and taste great to your dog.

Dressed to the nines. Routine brushing and grooming is important to make sure your pet has a healthy coat. Treat your best furry buddy by splurging on a good grooming to ensure they’re looking their best all season long.

String up the lights with care. While light strands look beautiful on the Christmas tree and in holiday decorations around the home, it’s important to note that they can represent a serious hazard to your dog. Puppies and inquisitive dogs that tend to chew can be at risk of serious burns or electric shock if they bite cords. The best recommendation is to be aware of the potential risk and to focus on prevention and appropriate supervision, especially when it comes to puppies. If you suspect your dog may have been electrocuted, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Plan ahead. This time of year, many families travel and bring their dogs or leave them in the care of others. Either way, make sure you have your veterinarian’s contact information and a 24/7 emergency contact. Always keep these numbers posted in an easy-to-find location in case of emergency. If you’re traveling, make sure your dog is current on all vaccinations and remember to bring proof of vaccination records with you on your trip. And lastly, don’t allow them on your lap while driving.

As you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holidays, be sure to keep these tips in mind for a safe and carefree season with your best buddy.

(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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