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Celebrate Holidays Safely With Your Pets

AVMA's Holiday Tips for Pet Owners

December abounds with holiday celebrations, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is reminding pet owners that nothing can spoil good cheer like an emergency visit to a veterinary clinic to save a pet from a not-so-happy holiday disaster.

"Veterinarians often see an increase in the number of emergency calls during the holiday season. Whether it's exposure to chocolate or fatty foods, or pets injured through exposure to festive decorations such as electric cords, ornaments, tinsel, etc., the holidays can present hazards for pets," explains Dr. Clark K. Fobian, AVMA president. "The most important way you can enjoy your pet through the holiday is by providing oversight and supervision so that they are not exposed to foods, decorations, strange people, or other things that can cause a disruption or an upsetting trip to an emergency clinic. For example, children often want to give pets extra treats during the holidays, but these treats should never include candy or table scraps. A little extra diligence is required to ensure that pets get proper foods and healthy pet treats."

AVMA resources, alerts, and information for the holidays:
· Household hazards brochure

· Holiday Pet Safety Tips podcast

· Pet Food & Product Recalls/Alerts webpage

· Household Hazards and Poisons for Your Pets video

Here are some AVMA holiday safety tips:

•Don't feed dogs and cats table scraps and don't allow a family dog to sit under the table during meals where children may slip them food. Gravy, meat fat and poultry skin can cause life-threatening conditions like pancreatitis and gastrointestinal problems. Bones can splinter and create bowel obstructions.

•Be wary of holiday decorations; pets often consume them. For example, cats sometimes consume tinsel, which can cause an intestinal blockage serious enough to require surgery.

•Don't let your pets climb the Christmas tree. If the tree falls over, your pet could be injured. Consider tying the tree to the ceiling or a doorframe using fishing line to secure it.

•Chocolate is an essential part of the holidays for many people, but it is important that it be kept away from pets. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate (baking chocolate being the darkest) the more dangerous it is to pets.

•Be wary of baked goods and sweets around pets. Not only are they often too rich for pets, but an artificial sweetener often found in baked goods, candy and chewing gum, xylitol, has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs.

•Flowers, table centerpieces, fireplace adornments and other festive plants are another common holiday feature that can result in an emergency veterinary visit. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are on the list of common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets who decide to eat them, and poinsettias can be troublesome as well.

•Unplug decorations while you're not around. Cats and dogs are often tempted to chew electrical cords.

For more information about the AVMA, please visit www.avma.org.

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