1. When it comes to mistletoe, hang it high. If ingested, mistletoe can not only upset a tummy, it might even cause cardiovascular problems.
2. While poinsettias probably aren’t as deadly as once thought, they’re still not good for dogs and cats. They can still cause nausea and diarrhea – which can be hard on both you and your pets.
3. Turkey leftovers are not for pets. They can tend to be greasier than your dog or cat are used to, which can cause indigestion. And poultry bones splinter too easily to be safe.
4. Keep chocolate off limits! It’s not good for cats and positively dangerous for dogs because it contains theobromine.
5. Candy wrappers aren’t any good, either. Aluminum and cellophane can appear irresistible to curious critters (like my bundle of feline energy, Reynaldo), but if swallowed, they can cause tummy troubles and intestinal blockage.
6. Ditto for tinsel.
7. Make sure your tree is securely anchored. This one comes from my mom. One night, when we were all asleep, our beloved family cat Tommy decided the Christmas tree simply needed to be climbed and he toppled it. That’s when she began running a bit of fishing line between the tree and a small hook in the wall. It’s almost invisible, but it does the trick!
8. Pets and tree stands. Every year, dogs all over the country suffer tummy troubles and occasionally even sores in their mouths from lapping up the water at the base of Christmas trees. It happens to cats now and again, too, so all pet owners should be careful.
9. Watch your pets when company arrives and leaves. Those open doors can be awfully tempting. I know, because Reynaldo is always ready to make a run for it. (Fortunately, I live on the fourth floor and until he can figure out how to use the elevator, there’s really nowhere for him to go. Besides, once out in the hall, he just calls me to join him. He seems to want us to run away from home together.)
10. Keep your pet in a quiet place during holiday parties. A lot of guests can mean a lot of stress for your dog or cat. Plus you can’t be sure that every invitee (especially the young ones) knows how to be gentle with your pet. A quiet bedroom is often the perfect place for your pet to spend a party.
11. Be careful in your garage! If you decide to keep your dog or cat in the garage during a party, make sure that it’s warm enough, and that there aren’t antifreeze spills. Antifreeze is positively deadly.
12. Keep an eye on your garbage, too. Ribbons, leftovers, candy wrappers … your trash can be filled with dangerous – but irresistible – stuff this time of year.
13. Be careful when you start your car. There are lots of sad strays out there, looking for warmth. And there are still plenty of cat owners who refuse to see the wisdom of keeping their cats indoors. So to make 100% sure that you don’t hurt a cat when you start your car, hit the hood or honk the horn before you turn the key.
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