Advice for clients: what not to feed animals this holiday season


Items and foods to keep away from cats and dogs during the holidays.

Things get a little crazy around the holidays, so the American Humane Association is reminding pet owners to watch out for cats and dogs eating or drinking things they shouldn't. Consider sharing this advice with your clients on your Web site or as handouts at your clinic.

> Tinsel. Some cats or dogs can't get enough of the grass-like decoration. Tell clients it can cause serious intestinal tract blockages and should be off the floor and away from animals at all times.

> People food. A little cranberry sauce, turkey, or ham never hurt a pet, right? Wrong. You know a small change in diet can mean stomach cramps and diarrhea-or worse-for the family animals. Remind clients not to feed pets from the dinner table, and especially to avoid letting them chew or eat poultry bones, which can cause blockages.

> Tree water. Recommend pet-friendly brands of tree preservative to keep your clients' Christmas trees in top condition and keep their pets safe. Better yet is making the water beneath the tree inaccessible to animal tongues.

> Pretty plants. They're so fragrant and beautiful-and so bad for pets, if eaten. Poinsettias, holly, amaryllis, mistletoe, and pine needles are no-no's for cats and dogs. Encourage clients to go for the fake flowers to keep curious four-legged eaters safe.

> Cold and flu medication. Medicine that takes care of clients' sniffles can be dangerous to dogs and cats. Remind pet owners to keep all prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs out of reach.

> Batteries. The coolest toys and electronic gadgets that come down the chimney this year need batteries, some of them small and perfect for snack-prone pets to gobble up. Tell your clients to keep them out of reach and off the floor, as chewed or swallowed batteries can cause ulcerations on mouths and tongues, and in gastrointestinal tracts.

> Antifreeze. When the weather turns cold, pets are more likely to be exposed to antifreeze. Standard formulas are toxic to animals, but there are nontoxic formulas, too. Remind clients to clean up antifreeze spills immediately so pets lap it up and wind up sick.

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