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Keep your pets safe from these holiday dangers

Veterinarians says the holidays can be one of the most dangerous times of the year for our pets if owners aren't careful.

Dr. Andrew Silverstone, a Virginia Beach veterinarian, says pets owners need to be cautious when it comes to health and safety dangers during the holidays, WTKR reports.

He offered these tips to keep your pet safe:

  • If you’re travelling with your pets, make sure they have been microchipped. The chips are registered to the pet owner and many shelters and vet clinics have scanners.  A chip is the fastest way to reunite a lost pet with their family.
  • Bring extra pet food if you are travelling, in case you get stuck.  If you are travelling by air, check with the airline for their requirements.  If you are leaving the country, you will need an international health certificate completed by an accredited veterinarian.
  • If you are boarding your pet, confirm that the facility requires vaccinations and that your pet is up to date.  It is a good idea to visit your pets boarding facility before hand to check for noise, cleanliness, and warmth.  Ask how many hours there are staff present and what arrangements the kennel has for emergency veterinary care.
  • If you have visitors coming, make sure your pet doesn’t get loose.  With all the excitement of visitors, it is easy for pets to slip out the door.
  • Avoid the temptation to give your pet people foods.  If you really want to give your pet a treat, boil skinless chicken.
  • Many other holiday foods may not be the healthiest for your pet. Pork and turkey can be oilier than pets are used to eating.  The greasiness can be harmful to your pet, causing a painful condition called pancreatitis.
  • Another lurking danger is the sweetener xylitol.  It is found in sugarless gum and peanut butter.  It is also a popular sweetener sold for drinks and cooking.  Xylitol can be fatal too your dog.  It can drop blood sugar levels dangerously low and harm the liver.
  • Chocolate and grapes are also not safe for dogs.
  • Always take out the trash and make sure your cans are secure.  Your pets will be attracted to all the yummy food smells.
  • Be careful with Christmas tree decorations and Menorahs with cats.  If you are using candles on your Menorah, make sure your cat can’t knock them over.
  • Cats can swallow tinsel which can require surgery to remove from their stomach.  Broken bulbs can easily cut pets feet. Water additives for trees should be avoided too, as these can be harmful.
  • It is a good idea to unplug holiday lights when you leave.  Their chewing of electrical cords can electrocute dogs and cats.
  • This is also the time of year when people are winterizing their cars.  Antifreeze is fatal to animals (and people).  It has a sweet taste, making it tasty to outdoor animals.  It is often green.  If you are changing your own antifreeze, take your waste liquids to a local garage for proper disposal.
  • If you have outdoor pets, make sure they have fresh straw for warmth.  Over time straw gets compressed and loses its ability to help retain heat.  If there are big drops in temperature, bring your pets inside.