After weeks of gift shopping, cookie baking and house decorating, it’s finally time to celebrate! From all of us here at the ASPCA, we’d like to send warm holiday wishes to you and your pets.
As you’re making your last-minute holiday to-do list and checking it twice, please don’t forget to consider your pets’ safety in the hustle and bustle of the season.
Keep these potential hazards in mind when getting your home ready for holiday gatherings:
Mind the greenery. Christmas trees, holly and mistletoe present various dangers to your pets. Make sure your Christmas tree is securely anchored so it doesn’t tip, fall and injure your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Holly and mistletoe can also cause illnesses in pets if ingested.
Hide the leftovers. Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends.
Be careful with your cocktails. Don’t leave alcoholic beverages unattended where your pets might try to drink them—alcohol can cause serious illness in pets.
Use candles and lights with care. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. Also, when decorating with electric or battery-powered lights, consider that wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to your pet’s mouth and esophagus.
As your pets celebrate the holidays with your family this year, try to keep their routines as close to normal as possible. If you plan to have guests in your home, it’s a good idea to keep your pets in a quiet, calm room with plenty of water and places to snuggle.
Friday is the first day of winter, and while we might be dreaming of a snowy holiday, icy conditions can present challenges for our pets’ health.
“During the winter, products used as de-icers on sidewalks and other areas can lead to trouble for our animal companions,” says Dr. Louise Murray, veterinarian and Vice President of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. “Pet parents should take precautions to minimize their furry friends' exposure to such agents.”
Keep these tips in mind when you bring your furry friends along for the neighborhood snowball fight:
•Bring a towel on long walks to clean off irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
•Booties for your pet’s paws help minimize contact with painful salt crystals, poisonous anti-freeze and chemical ice-melting agents. They can also help prevent irritating sand and salt from getting lodged in between bare toes.
•Massage petroleum jelly into paw pads before going outside to protect them from salt and chemical agents. Also, moisturizing can help heal chapped paws.
Retractable leads—those long leashes that extend to allow your dog to roam freely—are great for trips to a wide open space like a park. They let your dog sniff and explore more freely. But if you’ve got one that you use on daily walks in the city or on a busy path, it might be time to ditch it. Here’s why.
1. The leash can get caught on you, your dog, a cyclist or jogger and cause tripping, rope burn, cuts and even strangulation.
2. You might have the best-behaved dog in the world, but what about that other dog down the block? When you use a retractable leash, you’re opening your dog up to all sorts of dangers, including those posed by less-friendly dogs, bikes and cars. You may not be able to hit the brakes in time.
3. Retractable leashes allow your dog to approach other dogs uninvited, and that’s just downright inconsiderate. Other pet parents may not want their dogs to greet your dogs for a variety of reasons, including your own dog’s health and safety.
4. Perhaps worst of all, should you drop the leash in an already-busy area, its sudden retraction and the noise the handle makes when dragging on pavement can terrify even the most even-keeled dogs. That means your dog is much more likely to bolt.
We get why people are attracted to retractable leads, but for these reasons and more, we’re sticking with our dog’s good old six-foot leash when we’re on busy streets. For your pet’s safety, we hope you will, too.
Thanksgiving is all about spending time with loved ones—human and animal alike. So it makes sense that we’re tempted to fix Fido a plate of all the scrumptious holiday food we’re eating, right? But wait! Put down the serving spoon. Are you sure that’s safe for your pet? Here’s what you need to know.
Ten Thanksgiving dangers. Some foods are totally off-limits to our furry pals. Ten of them are especially common around the holidays. Just say no to:
•sage •shocolate •candy with xylitol •bread dough •batter with raw eggs •onions and garlic •macadamia nuts •raisins and grapes •rich or spicy foods •alcohol
Let’s talk turkey. Good news for Fido! ASPCA experts say a little bite of plain turkey is usually safe for pets. If you decide to share, remember: Only boneless, well-cooked turkey is OK. Giving your pet undercooked or bone-in turkey, fat or gristle, or cooked bones for chewing is not OK.
Don’t overdo it. Lots of us overindulge at the Thanksgiving table, but when our pets do, it can be a real problem. It’s best to keep pets on their normal diets during the holidays, but if you do decide to share your holiday spread, make it just a taste. Eating too much can give your dog diarrhea, upset stomach, or even pancreatitis.
Play it safe. If your dog or cat consumes any potentially harmful foods or products, please consult your veterinarian, or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or www.aspca.org/apcc.
It’s perfectly normal for puppies and dogs to chew on objects as they explore the world. For young dogs, it’s a way to relieve pain that might be caused by incoming teeth. For older dogs, it’s a way to keep jaws strong and teeth clean.
But sometimes natural chewing can become destructive for dogs seeking to combat boredom or relieve mild anxiety or frustration. Dogs who chew to relieve the stress of separation anxiety usually only chew when left alone or chew most intensely when left alone.
So what can you do if your best friend’s chewing turns destructive? Puppies and adult dogs should have a variety of appropriate and attractive chew toys. However, just providing the right things to chew isn’t enough to prevent inappropriate chewing. Dogs need to learn what is okay to chew and what is not.
What to Do If Your Dog Is a Destructive Chewer
"Dog-proof" your house. Put valuable objects away until you’re confident that your dog’s chewing behavior is restricted to appropriate items. Keep shoes and clothing in a closed closest, dirty laundry in a hamper and books on shelves. Make it easy for your dog to succeed.
Provide your dog with plenty of his own toys and inedible and edible chew bones. Introduce something new or rotate your dog’s chew toys every couple of days so he doesn’t get bored with the same old toys.
Discourage chewing inappropriate items by spraying them with chewing deterrents.
Do your best to supervise your dog during all waking hours until you feel confident that his chewing behavior is under control.
Provide your dog with plenty of physical exercise (playtime with you and with other dogs) and mental stimulation. If you have to leave your dog alone for more than a short period of time, make sure he gets out for a good play session.