Keep your pet safe during the holidays

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By Melanie Vittitow

The holidays are a time for fun, food, decorations and activities with friends and families. While you enjoy the season keep in mind that many of our winter habits and holiday traditions pose potential hazards to our pets.

Here are some tips to keep in mind to insure your pets stay healthy and happy during the holidays.

In this season of overeating you need to keep your pet on a normal diet. Even one meal of greasy, spicy or fatty foods can give your pet severe indigestion and/or diarrhea. So no leftovers for Rover, no matter how much he begs.

Be sure to keep your garbage where the pet can’t get to it. Bones can cause blockages and some foods are poisonous to animals (such as onions, garlic, avocado, grapes and raisins). Then there are the raw skins and other throwaways (like coffee grounds) that should never be eaten.

When entertaining, we usually have bowls of candy and nuts sitting around. Make sure they are out of reach of roving noses. You probably already know that chocolate is bad for dogs but any candy sweetened with xylitol can be poisonous, even small amounts.

Be sure your guests throw the wrappers where the cats and dogs can’t get to them. If you must use the coffee table for sweets, it would be best to confine the pet to another room or part of the house during the party.

Alcohol is another thing to keep out of reach. Unattended cocktails on a low table are an invitation to a nosey dog. Alcohol can cause respiratory failure, coma and possible death.

The Christmas tree poses numerous potential problems. If it’s a live tree, keep the tree water covered. It could contain fertilizers or mold that can cause stomach upset.

The decorations on the bottom of the tree should be pet friendly, if possible. Use wood, cloth, or plastic ornaments and no ribbon or tinsel that is so enticing, especially to cats.

Also take care that cords and wires are not easily accessible to the pet.

Keep in mind that many of the plants used this time of year in floral decorations are toxic to pets. Lilies, mistletoe, holly berries and poinsettia can all cause stomach upset and some can cause kidney failure or cardiovascular problems.

Candles are another potential hazard. Be sure any lit candles are kept well out of reach. They can cause burnt noses, paws or tails, and if knocked over may cause a fire.

Last but not least, if you have a small pet, or a nervous one, it’s best to keep him or her out of harm’s way during parties. Introduce him to the guests if he wants that and then take him to a safe place. Give him a special treat or toy and his bed or blanket so he doesn’t feel like he’s being punished.

Your pet is a member of your family and by keeping him safe and healthy, you will all have a much happier holiday season.


Our local chapter continues to meet at On Top of the World, in the Arbor Conference Center, room H, at 1 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month. Our December meeting was a Christmas party.

In January, Christy Jergens from the Marion County Animal Center will speak to us about the center and all the animal services provided by the county.

Meanwhile we manage to stay busy helping displaced animals in our area. One little puppy was found with his littermates but was not adoptable due to a damaged leg. The rest of the litter was taken to the Humane Society, and the Good Samarian who found him kept him and we helped with part of the vet bill.

As in years past, we are providing Christmas stockings for the pets of the Meals on Wheels recipients who we help feed each month. The Marion Landing Dog Club made the stockings and we filled them with toys and goodies, and they will be distributed with next week’s meals.

Dog Lost

We are putting out the word on a lost dog in the Florida Highlands area. Lucy is a Lab/pointer mix and is very friendly. She is about 65 lbs. and is chocolate brown with white on her paws and side. If have seen her, call Robert at 854-1653 or 208-9081.

Homeless Hounds

There are two dogs that need homes. One is a collie mix, mostly black. Her name is Patch and she’s 10 years old, spayed, and current on all shots.

She has lived with another dog and a cat so she can go in a home with other pets. For more information, call Cammie Dennis at 854-5198, ext. 13 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The other is a black Lab who lives in Inverness. She is 60 lbs., about 1½ years old, spayed and, like almost all Labs, is very sweet and friendly. She needs a home with a fenced yard. For more information, call Donald Peacock at -352-860-1761.

Till next month remember: “Pets are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.

Melanie Vittitow is an OTOW resident who does publicity for SPCA of Marion County. For SPCA information and directions to meetings, call Melanie at 873-8690, Jeannie at 873-2354, or Jodi at 861-9765.