Monday, November 15, 2004

Pet Safety

Author: Lee Dobbins


Your home might be "kid-proof" but how does it measure up whenit comes to safety for your pet? Do you know all the hazardsyour pet is exposed to? How about what plants are poisonous andwhat foods should be avoided?

Caring for your pet is more than just making sure he has enoughfood, water and gets the appropriate veterinary care, it alsomeans providing a pet safe environment so that your furry,feathered or scaly friend can stay safe and healthy.Unfortunately, there are many hazards your pet is exposed toeach day that could put them in danger. Being aware of them sothat you can keep your pet out of harms way is theresponsibility of every pet owner.

Sometimes your guests can be the biggest hazard to your pet. Ifyou have indoor pets, your quests may not realize this and opendoors or windows around them that could allow them to “escape”to the great outdoors. Well meaning dinner guests and partygo-ers could overfeed your pet and cause him to become ill.Imagine if you had 20 guests and each one fed "treats" to yourpet! To insure pet safety when you have guests try keeping thepet in a crate or another room that the quests will not beallowed into. This may actually be more comfortable for your pettoo as it may make him nervous to have so many people around ifhe is not used to it. Instruct your guests not to let theanimals outside if they should get into the main house. Makesure your pet wears tags so he can be identified and returnshould he get out by mistake.

The holidays should be enjoyed by both you and your pets, sokeep pet safety in mind when decorating and celebrating.Remember that small objects can cause an intestinal blockage ifeaten so be sure to remove all tinsel, Easter grass, confetti,small toys and wrapping paper. Don’t leave candles unattendedwith pets near. Pet costumes can be cute, but make sure thereare no lose strings that could choke your pet or that he can gethis limbs caught in. It is best to not leave your pet unattendedwhen you have him dressed up. Make sure electrical cords arekept away for pets especially puppies. They can chew through thecord and get burned or even electrocuted. After decorating for aholiday, make sure to observe your pet around the newdecorations for several hours to see if they develop any unsafehabits around certain items - you may need to remove or rethinkyour decorating if it looks like there could be a hazard. I hada ferret that liked to jump into the tree and grab all the shinyornaments so I stopped decorating the bottom of the tree toprevent this as I was afraid the glass would break and injureher!

When feeding your pet treats, it is important to know that theyshould not eat certain foods. In general “people food” should begiven to pets sparingly if at all, but some foods can be toxic.
Most of the greasy holiday foods that we love to eat are notgood for them and overfeeding can make them ill. In particulardo not feed them chocolate - it can be fatal especially to cats.So make sure you move those valentine candies, Easter eggs andchocolate Santas out of pets reach. Other foods to avoid areonions, alcohol and poultry bones. In addition, birds should notbe fed avocados, dairy products, fruit seeds, potatoes, cabbage,green beans, lemons, rhubarb, grapefruit, plums and, of course,caffeine, chocolate, and alchohol. Any of these can be harmfuland even fatal to your feathered friend! Also, keep in mind thatthe fumes from non stick pans can be fatal for pet birds so keepyour bird out of the kitchen, or better yet, switch to cast ironpans.

When decorating with plants either for the holidays or just ingeneral, keep pet safety in mind. There are many toxic plantsbut common toxic holiday plants include potted bulbs, ivy,holly, mistletoe and greens (contrary to popular beliefpoinsettia are not overly dangerous but I still wouldn't let mypet eat one!). This is not an exhaustive list so before youbring any new plant into the house please research it'stoxicity.

It’s just as important to look out for your pets safety outsideas it is inside. Beware that antifreeze is extremely toxic topets. Keep your pet away from any puddles that might contain it.Rock salt can be irritating to pet paws and also to theirstomach if eaten or licked off the paws. Use common sense whenpracticing pet safety during the winter months.

About the author:Lee Dobbins is a pet lover, pet owner and webmaster of whereyou can find information on pet health, safety and products.

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