A few basic precautions make holiday celebrations safer for family pets.
The holiday season is a time for fun with family and friends, but Pinellas County Animal Services reminds members of the community not to forget pets at this time of year.
• Securely anchor the Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to pets. This will also prevent the tree water, which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset, from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and pets could end up with nausea or diarrhea if consumed.
• Kitties love tinsel, a sparkly, light catching “toy” that is easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten the holidays with something other than tinsel.
• Do not feed a pet chocolate or anything sweetened with xylitol. Make sure to keep pets away from the table and unattended food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.
• Forget the holly and mistletoe. Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems.
• Hold the leftovers. Fatty, spicy and other human foods should not be fed to furry friends. Bones from cooked meals cannot be digested and can cause serious and even deadly problems for dogs and cats.
• Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candleholders, placed on a stable surface. Extinguish candles when leaving the room.
• If celebrations include adult holiday beverages, be sure to place unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get them. If ingested, a pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.
• Give pets their own quiet space to retreat, complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide under furniture, in their carrier or in a separate room away from the excitement.
• Keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestine, if ingested, requiring surgery. Noisy poppers and fireworks can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears.
Pinellas County Animal Services is located at 12450 Ulmerton Road in Largo. For information on how to adopt, donate or volunteer, join Pinellas County Animal Services on Facebook. To learn more about the shelter, visit www.pinellascounty.org/animalservices, or call 582-2600.