Holiday safety tips for Fido and Fluffy

Before we get to this week’s safety tips, don’t forget that CAPS will be at Walmart tomorrow, so please stop by and see us from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The “us” also includes Ki the Kissing Pooch, who can’t wait to see you. We’d love it if we could help with your last-minute shopping. We’ll have our pullover and zipped hoodies, sweatshirts, long- and short-sleeved T-shirts, caps, totes and baked goods for sale.

While you’re visiting with us, why not get your 2014 Happy Endings calendar? A bargain at only $10, it also makes an inexpensive gift. The calendar can also be purchased at the shelter (on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and these fine merchants: Mutts, etc.; The UPS Store; Red Zinnia; The Family Pet Connection; and Flower Tree Nursery.

For those of you who celebrate the season, you probably have trimmed your tree, decorated your house and purchased food that you consider special, holiday treats. Your festivities may include dinners and parties for your family and friends. One or more of your friends may be the four-legged, furry type who lives with you; during this busy time, be sure to keep their safety especially in mind.

On the top of the list of safety issues is the tree. Cats, young or old, love to climb them. Whether the tree is real or artificial, use a sturdy, heavy-duty stand and anchor it so that the tree doesn’t tip over. If the tree is on uncarpeted floor, duct tape it to the floor; if on carpet, secure it with heavy twine or wire to a piece of heavy furniture.

Dogs, especially males, may also like trees, but for a different reason. If Fido equates the inside tree with an outside one, you probably will need to invest in folding pet gates to surround the tree or an expandable doorway gate to deny him access to the room while the tree is up. In any case, don’t allow Fido or Fluffy to drink the water in the stand.

Depending where the tree was grown and/or who grew it, it could dispense the following into the water: fertilizers, insecticides or flame retardants. There’s also the issue of bacteria growing in the sugar that many tree preservatives contain. Any of these can cause nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea. So, use a tree skirt or some other means of covering this potentially dangerous “water hole.”

Besides the tree itself, things on the tree can be harmful. First of these is tinsel, which mesmerizes cats, especially kittens. Fluffy loves it because it’s sparkly, like a ribbon and so easy to carry around in her mouth. However, if swallowed, tinsel could become tangled in the intestine, causing a bowel obstruction and possible death. Another problem is tinsel wrapped around the base of the tongue, which is dangerous and painful.

Dogs don’t seem to have this fascination with tinsel, but Fido could suffer the same results if he swallowed it. However, Fido might like the shiny, round ornament that looks like “a ball? Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!” If he grabs a glass one and it breaks, his mouth and throat may get cut. The ornament hook, if swallowed, may become stuck in his esophagus. Either one swallowed could cause even more problems done the line.

Cats love any ornament dangling at eye height (and higher). Although Fluffy wouldn’t eat a broken glass ornament, she might step in it and cut her paw. Plastic ornaments are safe for cats, but secure them snugly to the tree or you’ll constantly be rehanging them. Your other choices are to leave the bottom of the tree bare or decorate that part of the tree with plain, uninteresting items (to Fido and Fluffy).

This week’s article was contributed by Betty Duncan, a member of the CAPS board of directors.


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