Have a Safe and Stress-Free Holiday Season

Cooked poultry bones may seem like the perfect reward, but do your pet a favor and save them for the soup. (As an alternative, low-sodium poultry broth is a wonderful treat when it’s poured over your pet’s regular food.) Even the largest cooked turkey bones are prone to splintering, which can send shards through the animal’s intestines. If a piece pierces the lining, it can lead to deadly peritonitis.

Deck the Halls With Pets in Mind

Your leg-lifting dog and branch-climbing cat will think their dreams have come true the moment you erect that Christmas tree. But you may see it as more of a nightmare. Christmas trees are festooned with hazards for dogs and cats. If ingested, tinsel can twist up intestines. This is a particular danger to cats and kittens, who find tinsel — along with yarn, ribbon and string — especially appealing to eat. Ornaments can also be deadly in the mouths and stomachs of pets. And the water at the base of the tree contains secretions that can, at the very least, cause a stomachache.

Unless you’re there to supervise, the best way to keep pets out of trouble is to render the tree off limits. An easy solution: Place it in a room with a door you can close.

Certain holiday plants can also be toxic to pets, including mistletoe and the bulbs of the amaryllis plant. The poinsettia is only mildly toxic at worst, despite its fearsome reputation, but it still should be off limits to pets.

The Ultimate in Holiday Planning

My final holiday safety and stress-busting tip: Be prepared! Before you deck the halls of your home, set up the Christmas tree or start planning your New Year’s Eve bash, call your veterinarian’s office and ask for information about who will be handling emergencies during the holidays. Then stick that information on your refrigerator, along with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone number. It’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at 888-426-4435. The service usually charges a fee of $55, which you can pay by credit card.

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