Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Its all fun and games until someone eats a whole turkey.

by Kris Phillips


With all the holiday cheer it is easy to lose track of your usual pet precautions and the holidays offer their own dangers to your furry family members. Nothing ruins your holiday plans like a trip to the ER; and trust me, if you have to go it will be an all day event. But a few pet-friendly precautions will make sure you’re sitting around the tree on Christmas morning instead of sitting in the waiting room.

I’ll be honest, I’ve learned a few of these lessons the hard way. Decadent chocolates wrapped in bright paper are a great go-to gift for friends and colleagues, but you may want to let the recipient know to keep the gift up high. A friend of mine received such a gift from a grateful client and placed it under the tree to be opened on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, she came home the next day to find her pair of Min-Pins had been very naughty and devoured the entire box. Between the vet bill and the carpet cleaning, the thoughtful gift became a complete nightmare. Few pups have the self restraint to leave those good smelling boxes alone.

Holiday gatherings also mean people who may not be used to being around pets are congregating. Make sure guests know not to leave gates and doors open. drunken swotaConsider putting cats in a bedroom so they don’t slip out an open door. Both cats and dogs may be more comfortable in the quiet sanctuary of a closed bedroom. And do your best to make sure guests understand that food placed at nose level is likely to be swiped.  One fateful Thanksgiving a family friend kindly offered to take the turkey carcass out to the trash. Within 15 minutes there was an all out war in the back yard. The carcass had been discovered by the trio of family dogs. Not surprisingly the smallest, most aggressive, took the brunt of the melee and scored a trip to animal ER. It turned out the trash had been somewhat full so the family friend simply set the bag of turkey bones on top of the can, well within reach of the family lab. In fact it seems like food driven labs are especially at risk this time of year. I recently heard about a Labrador who snatched and ate an entire turkey out of the sink, along with a pound of baking chocolate. Yikes! And keep an eye on the alcohol. Odds are your dogs and cats are not of legal drinking age, so keep the bubbly out of reach. (Along with any other celebratory substances)

DSCF0983Aside from escaping outside, cats seem to be most at risk with decorations. Tinsel was once my favorite tree-trimmer but it represents a huge hazard to kitty households. Cats can’t help but eat it; and in many cases, the non-digestible string can become a serious problem for kitty intestines. Best case scenario-expensive surgery. If you have kitties there may be no preventing tree climbing, so consider robust decorations. Keep a close eye on light and extension cords for any signs of chewing. And even if you don’t have a cat keep precious ornaments high on the tree. Excited lab tails are also great at taking out low hanging ornaments. When Yukon was a puppy he even ate a small glass ornament. So now all glass ornaments stay at least three feet above the floor.

So if you just remember your usual decorating precautions and assume your visiting friends have never been around pets you & your pets can enjoy all the happiness the holidays have to offer!santa


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