Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Taking the Bite Out of Holiday Dangers for Pets

ORLANDO, FL– With all the food, festivities and decorations of the holiday season, keeping Fluffy or Fido safe can be a challenge. But furry family members should be just fine as long as their owners follow some simple precautions.

K.C. Theisen, director of pet care issues with the Humane Society of the United States, says bowls of candy or snacks left sitting out can cause health issues for pets.

"Chocolate is a well-known toxin to dogs and to cats," she says. "Some nuts are also not healthy for pets to eat, especially if they get a large number of them. It's best to keep all of those dishes and all those snack trays above nose level."

Theisen also says seasonal plants like poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly need to be kept out of reach. If consumed, all three can be poisonous to pets, or at least cause an upset stomach.

Pets can also be curious about decorations, so Theisen recommends securely anchoring the Christmas tree, and keeping all breakable ornaments, tinsel, and garland out of reach.

In addition, a houseful of guests not only can cause anxiety for the host, but also for pets. Theisen advises owners to consider their pet's individual personality when deciding whether, or how long, they should be allowed to mingle with guests.

"If they're a social butterfly and they love to see people and can stay calm around a large crowd, excellent, they might enjoy the festivities," she says. "But a lot of pets feel more confident if they have a safe space to retreat to."

Before putting your pet outside for an extended period of time, Theisen reminds owners to keep the weather and temperature in mind. Although cats and dogs do have fur coats, leaving animals outdoors when it's freezing can put them at danger for hypothermia or frostbite.

"It's really important to remember their noses are naked, their ears are mostly naked, and the bottom of their feet that touches the pavement are naked," she says. "We have to be extremely careful."

For those who are taking their cat or dog along for holiday travel, Theisen says it's a good idea to double up on tags and collars so if a mishap occurs, their pet can be located as quickly as possible.

Photos/graphics, links added by the Observer | Photo: ASPCA

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