SENIOR LOOKOUT: Safe Vacation Tips for the Four-Legged Family | News

Over Thanksgiving weekend, my cats picked up their all-time favorite toy. We set up the Christmas tree and they think it’s their personal playground. Every year we put the tree in a corner, tie it up securely, and hope for the best.

Holidays can be dangerous and / or stressful for our pets. If we are not thoughtful, decorations, gifts, food, and guests can create a pet free situation.

Amaryllis, poinsettia, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are some of the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to animals that decide to eat them. Water additives for trees can be harmful to your pets. Do not add aspirin, sugar, or anything to your tree water if you have pets in the house. Broken decorations can create a danger to the feet and stomachs of pets. The wire hanger on a tree decoration can be an attractive toy, but could be fatal if accidentally eaten. Garlands, if ingested, can block the intestines.

One of my cats is addicted to chewing plastic bags and gift ribbons. He will tear a box to reach the ribbon, chew and eat the ribbon. As much as I love ribbons on my gifts, our house is now a ribbon-free zone.

A burning candle looks especially fun for some cats. One of my cats will beat an open flame until it extinguishes it. She burned her paw, but still wants to play with the flame. We are now putting all candles out of the reach of cats. If a candle is on a coffee table, we lock it in a hurricane lamp to avoid trouble. A candle should never be left burning unattended.

Some animals love to chew on electrical cords. Anyone who has seen “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” knows the dangers that tree lights can pose to an inquisitive cat. String covers or organizers can help keep your baby from being shocked.

Holiday foods can be a particular problem. High fat foods are very dangerous for our pets – even a little bit of turkey skin can cause problems. Many foods that are healthy for humans are toxic to pets, including onions, raisins, and grapes. Most people now know that chocolate is dangerous for dogs and cats. But other candies may contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can damage the liver. The yeast in baked goods can cause bloating in a cat or dog’s stomach.

Make sure holiday drinks and any other intoxicants you may have are kept away from pets. A curious taste of fortified eggnog or “special” brownies could lead to a very sick furry baby.

Vacationing visitors and guests can cause stress and unexpected dangers in a pet’s life. If you have a guest, make sure they keep medications or toiletries away from nosy noses. A guest who doesn’t normally live with a cat or dog might forget how flirty a tube of toothpaste or a roll of antacids can be.

Make sure your pets have a “safe zone” to escape to if there are too many guests. A quiet room with their crate or a nice bed to hide under could be the perfect place to spend the evening when the house is full of party people. And, watch the door as your guests leave. Maybe this is the opportunity your furry Houdini has been waiting for!

Our pets are family and enjoy our celebrations. With a little forethought, vacations can be as fun for our animals as it is for humans.

Tracy Arabian is Communications Manager at SeniorCare Inc., a local aging agency serving Gloucester, Beverly, Essex, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Topsfield and Wenham.

Tracy Arabian is Communications Manager at SeniorCare Inc., a local aging agency serving Gloucester, Beverly, Essex, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Topsfield and Wenham.


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