BROWARD COUNTY (CBSMiami) — It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but not if you end up rushing your pet pooch or cherished cat to the veterinarian for a health emergency.

The holidays can be a stressful and potentially dangerous time for pets. That’s why Broward County Animal Care offers the following safety tips and recommendations:

PET-PROOF DECORATIONS

  • Fasten the Christmas tree to a wall or other sturdy support to prevent your cat or dog from knocking it down. In addition, products that can extend the life of your tree are poisonous and irritating. When adding these products to the water in your tree’s stand, cover the bowl with screening or other material to prevent your pet from consuming the solution.
  • Hang breakables, tinsel and other tempting decorations well out of a paw’s reach. These items can be especially harmful if chewed and swallowed.
  • Electrical cords can be hazardous. Pets can chew on them and electrocute themselves. Gather and tie or bind cords together as much as possible (PVC pipe works well) and situate the cords so that pets don’t have easy access.
  • Place holiday plants out of your pet’s reach. Seasonal foliage – such as mistletoe, holly, amaryllis and poinsettias —are poisonous.  If ingested, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or other serious health problems.
  • Open flame candles can be dangerous to both you and your pet.  Play it safe and use holders that have glass domes, cups or cylinders that will cover the flame or use battery-operated candles.

TREATS TO AVOID

  • Don’t share candy, especially chocolate, with pets.  It’s toxic to dogs and cats and can cause vomiting, heart disturbances and possible death. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Avoid giving your dog bones or any part of the holiday meal. Also, do not give your pet alcohol, eggnog or other holiday drinks. Instead, keep your pet on his regular feeding schedule and regular diet.  Rich holiday food can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.

HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR PETS

  • Avoid pet toys with small parts or those made of soft materials that can be chewed and swallowed. In addition, avoid hard, plastic dog bones since they can splinter and cause a choking hazard. Nylon-type chews or Kongs are safer.
  • Don’t put catnip or other edibles in hanging stockings. Your pet will be tempted to pull the stocking down.

FINAL SAFETY TIPS

  • Pets look cute in Santa hats and reindeer horns, however, do not leave these costumes on for extended periods of time. The elastic on the costumes can cut into the skin causing irritation and some pets may try to chew and swallow the costume.
  • During holiday parties and dinners, keep your pet in a quiet room away from the entertainment. Pets should also be kept away from the front and back doors as well as patio areas that lead to the outside of the house. During parties it is easy for your pet to slip out unnoticed.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing its County license tag on a secure collar. The license is the best way to reunite lost pets with owners.
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