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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Holiday Pet Tips From the American Humane Association

Most savvy pet owners know the usual pet tips about poisonous items in the home, like poinsettias and chocolate. But, as many veterinarians can tell you, that is just the beginning. The American Humane Association wants to help ensure that your pet's antics don't result in an unplanned holiday trip to the animal hospital. Here are the latest tips to keep your pet safe this holiday season.

Give them your love, not your dough: Sometimes we forget what can "fall" on the floor when we are cooking for a holiday crowd and there's a pet around. Some of it may be OK, but other things, like bread dough, can cause problems. When an animal ingests dough, its body heat causes the dough to rise in its stomach, leading to bloat or worse. It's best to let your pet snack on familiar favorites instead of unfamiliar holiday goodies.

If they like toilet water, they'll probably like tree water: Both cats and dogs may find the tree water irresistible, so make sure to use pet-friendly tree preservatives in the water. Better yet, use a tree stand designed to prevent pets from accessing the water, which can harbor bacteria.

More temptation lies in the tree: With glittering lights and a rustic climbing area, the tree may offer a new place for your cat to play. Hang your most valuable or breakable ornaments near the top and cat-friendly "ornaments" on the bottom.

In addition to poinsettias: Even holly, amaryllis, mistletoe and pine needles can be harmful to your pet's stomach. Go for the fake version and keep your traditions, and your pet, alive.

Knock on the car hood to see if someone is home: Cats and other animals may seek out your car engine for warmth during the winter months. Honk the horn or bang on the hood a few times before starting the engine.

Staying warm requires extra calories: Your pet may need a little help during the winter, so feed it accordingly when the temperature drops. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on the proper diet for your pet.

Ice, snow and salt: Your pet may like taking a stroll outside when the temperature dips, but many people use powerful salts on their sidewalks to combat the ice. Clean your pet's paws after your outing to prevent its pads from becoming irritated and dried out.

Don't forget your feathered friends: Getting ready for holiday gatherings usually means extra cleaning before guests arrive. Fumes from rug shampoo, furniture polish and oven cleaner can be fatal to a bird if they enter its delicate respiratory system. When using these products, keep them away from birds, and open your windows to let the air flow.

Just because it's cold doesn't mean they can't catch a bug: Mosquitoes and other bugs can be a year-round problem. Remember to keep your pets on their regular heartworm, flea and tick preventive medicines.

The American Humane Association wishes everybody and their pets season's greetings and a safe holiday season. For more information go to


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