Safety tips for pets at Christmas

Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, some people may forget this can be the time of year most dangerous for pets, particularly cats and dogs.
The number-one concern is frostbite, said Colleen Eyolfson, a animal health technician with the Nor-West Animal Clinic here. Even though the house may be full of visitors, she urged not to leave dogs out in the cold for too long.
“The temperatures have been pretty bad [and] if it’s been cold for us, it’s cold for them,” Eyolfson said. She added “being outdoors” includes being locked in the family car, where it’s just as dangerous for pets in the cold as it is in the summer heat.
People also should keep an eye out for things that may result in pets choking or being poisoned.
“Tinsel, chocolate, turkey bones, and ‘people food,’” Eyolfson noted. “Basically, people should use common sense with pets around.
Eyolfson said the clinic already has seen several cats which have eaten tinsel. “Usually it’s not too serious but if it’s really well-lodged, we may have to surgically remove the tinsel,” she added.
Another thing to consider is that pets need a break from all the unusual activities and people the holiday season brings.
“With all the commotion that goes on at Christmas, it’s best to find them a place of their own, whether it’s a separate room or whatever,” said Dawnn Taylor, owner of Four Paws Pet Supply here.
“Also, make sure to get your pet a gift so they don’t feel left out and get destructive,” added Taylor, who’s heard many complaints about chewed up presents under the tree.
She also warned that pets themselves are never a good gift idea.
“If you’re going to give someone a pet, make sure they want one,” she stressed. “Dogs and cats can be very care-intensive. Remember, they’re for life.”