Protect the family pet this holiday season

Take-pet-care-precautions-throughout-the-holiday-season-to-ensure-that-pets-are-kept-healthy-and-safe-_16000425_800898795_0_0_14069543_300-3Halloween kicked off a holiday season full of goodies, and while this might be a treat for humans, sometimes holiday foods and decorations leave pets feeling sick – or even worse. Take pet care precautions throughout the holiday season to ensure that pets are kept healthy and safe.

Make sure to keep Halloween candy out of reach of the family dog. Chocolate is especially hazardous to dogs because of its mixture of caffeine and Theobromine. These cause toxicity and side effects similar to, but stronger than, those caused by caffeine in humans. Dark chocolate is the most toxic candy a dog can eat, but it most likely won’t cause anything more than vomiting and gastrointestinal disturbances, according to ABC affiliate WGNO.

During Thanksgiving, tossing a dog a bone might seem like the kind thing to do, but those brittle bones can splinter and upset his intestinal tract. Instead, Animal Planet suggested feeding him a turkey-flavored bone. There are even dog treats in other Thanksgiving flavors, such as apple or yam, so that he can also join in on the feast.

There are several other pet dangers during Thanksgiving meals to be aware of, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Feeding dogs or cats nibbles of turkey is okay, but only if it is fully cooked. Otherwise, it might pose the threat of salmonella bacteria. Keep a pet’s consumption of meat to a minimum, as any major changes to their diet can cause gastrointestinal problems.

Turkey stuffing is off-limits to dogs and cats if it contains sage or other essential oils and resins. These can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression, ASPCA reported. Cats are especially prone to this. Raw bread dough is also a no-no, as an animal’s body heat can cause the dough to rise in their stomach, putting him or her at risk for vomiting, abdominal pain and, in some cases, the need to go to the emergency room.

When it comes time to put up holiday plants and decorations, take extra care that pets do not get hold of them, Pet Education advised. Christmas tree needles can be toxic and cause irritations to animals’ mouths if ingested. Holly berries and leaves can also be poisonous to both dogs and cats, and mistletoe, hibiscus and poinsettias all have negative side effects if ingested by animals. Consider using imitation plants or keeping them out of reach of pets this holiday season.