Vets Urge Keeping Holiday Focus on Pet Health

AVMA offers top 10 holiday safety tips for cats and dogs.

Posted: Dec. 9, 2008, 3 a.m. EST

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White cat at holidays
Cat owners should take steps to keep their pets away from potentially dangerous holiday treats and decorations.
People want to involve their pets in the holiday celebrations, but pet owners need to focus on keeping their pets healthy, according to Dr. James Cook, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Every year, Cook treats pets that have become sick because of holiday excesses, he said. Some of the animals can’t be saved.

To avoid a disaster, the AVMA offers its top 10 holiday health tips:

  1. Keep table scraps out of your pet’s diet. “Salty, spicy and greasy” can be deadly for pets, Cook said. Fatty foods can cause a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis in dogs, and bones can splinter in an animal’s stomach.
  2. Chocolate should be out of reach of dogs because it’s poisonous. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous, with baker’s chocolate being the most toxic.
  3. Avoid sweets. A study reported in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2006 linked xylitol, a common sweetener in baked goods, candy and chewing gum, with liver failure and death in dogs.
  4. Give your pet healthy holiday snacks. Recipes are available on the Internet or visit a pet store/bakery. Ask your veterinarian about healthy treats.
  5. Anchor your holiday tree. It’s a temptation for pets, and, if it topples, it can cause severe injuries. And keep pets away from the tree water as tree preservatives and sap can cause gastrointestinal problems.
  6. Never leave a pet alone with a lit candle or exposed flame, and be wary of exposed extension cords.
  7. Don’t let pets dine on holiday plants. Poinsettia, holly, cedar, balsam, pine and mistletoe are poisonous.
  8. Be careful about ornaments. Cats sometimes consume tinsel and other small decorations, which can block intestines.
  9. Don’t go off to a holiday party and leave your pet with access to table scraps or anything that might be dangerous.
  10. Don’t give a pet as a holiday gift.
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Reader Comments

meredith    sheffield lake, OH

12/10/2008 8:37:29 PM

great helpful article :)

Amanda    North Hampton, NH

12/10/2008 8:08:41 AM

It's so easy to overlook these things during the holiday activity. Good article.

momo    anaheim, CA

12/9/2008 10:45:35 PM

good advice

Amanda    Brevard, NC

12/9/2008 10:21:44 PM

Thanks for the reminders. It's easy to forget sometimes, cause we love them so much like they are our human children!

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