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Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe

 Christmas trees: Pine needles can get lodged in an animal’s esophagus, making it painfully prickly for your pet to swallow. Even drinking the water from the Christmas tree base is enough to cause diarrhea, mouth sores, vomiting and loss of appetite.

Deck the halls: A bunch of mistletoe may tempt a festive kiss, but be warned that eating this holiday greenery could cause a drop in blood pressure, as well as vomiting and swollen throat and mouth tissue. Other holiday foliage, including Holly and Poinsettias, contain toxins that could lead to severe stomach problems, as well as skin, mouth and eye irritation. Worse yet, Yew is extremely toxic, and one mouthful could be deadly.

Visions of sugar plums: Cookies and candies are as much about holiday tradition as a snowy street scene; however, some of them can be dangerous to your pets. For example, chocolate contains a chemical known as theobromine, which can be highly toxic to your four-legged friends.

Antifreeze alert: The onset of winter often means new antifreeze for the family car, which is a substance that can be especially harmful to the family pet, as antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which causes rapid and permanent kidney damage to your companion animal if ingested in even small amounts.

Don’t give pets holiday leftovers and keep pets out of the garbage. Poultry bones can splinter and cause blockages. Greasy, spicy and fatty foods can cause stomach upset; spoiled or moldy foods could cause food poisoning signs, tremors or seizures.

Alcohol and pets do not mix. Place unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot reach them. If ingested, the animal could become very sick and weak and may go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

Keep aluminum foil and cellophane candy wrappers away from pets. They can cause vomiting and intestinal blockage.

Be careful with holiday floral arrangements. Lilies are commonly used and all varieties, including Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca can cause kidney failure in cats.

Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers, which if ingested, can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water can also act as a breeding ground for bacteria and if ingested a pet could end up with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If ingested, decorations such as ribbons or tinsel can become lodged in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction. This is a very common problem, particularly with cats. Consider decorating your tree with ornaments that are relatively less enticing to pets, such as dried non- toxic flowers, wood, fabric or pinecones.

A Christmas tree should stand on a flat, wide base. You may also want to anchor the tree with fishing line tied to a drapery rod, a ceiling or wall hook. Cats often see trees as excellent climbing posts. Whether your tree is live or artificial, both kinds of needles are indigestible.

If you plan to entertain provide a “safe haven” to which your pets can retreat when they get overly excited and there is a possibility of escape.

If you are going away for the holidays: make sure pet enclosures are secure, your pets are wearing proper identification, and arrangements have been made for their care.