Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 7:12am
The rush of holiday activities can leave pets neglected and stressed. Remember to include your family pets in your holiday planning.
To keep your holiday celebrations merry for everyone, take care to balance attention and quiet time for your pet. Let your animal-loving guests give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you're busy tending to the party with lap time, play, or a walk.
Give your pet some quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that nearly 1,000 home fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners' pets.
The American Kennel Club, the ASPCA and ADT Security Services offer these tips for general home safety and holiday guidelines:
- Extinguish open flames - Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
- Take care to secure stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house - a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.
- Invest in flameless candles. These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
- Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. 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 could cause nausea or diarrhea should your pet imbibe.
- Cats are often attracted to the sparkly, light-catching "toy" that is tinsel. But if it is swallowed, it can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery.
- Other potential dangers for pets looking for a snack include chocolate, cocktails, and fatty, spicy human food. Mistletoe and holly are also dangerous to pets; opt for artificial or pet-friendly plants.
- Holiday decorations present their own hazards. Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth.
The best way to protect your pets from the effects of a fire is to include them in your family plan. This includes having their own disaster supplies kit as well as arranging in advance for a safe place for them to stay if you need to leave your home. In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them, too.
Help firefighters help your pets by keeping pets near entrances when away from home. Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.
If your pet does suffer smoke inhalation in a fire, you should know that Madison paramedics carry pet oxygen masks on all City ambulances.
- Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947, firstname.lastname@example.org