The BC SPCA is reminding pet guardians that the holidays – and colder weather – can be hazardous for pets.
“We want everyone to enjoy the holidays, including the furry members of your family,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations.
Holiday pet safety tips include:
• Bones are bad: Avoid giving bones to your dogs or cats, particularly turkey bones. Poultry bones easily splinter and can cause serious injury, while bone fragments can cause intestinal blockages or lacerations.
• Thoughtful treats: Chocolate and other sweets should not be given to animals. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that can be deadly to cats and dogs, though not harmful to humans. The best thing you can do for your pet over the holidays is to keep them on their regular diet. Look for healthy animal treats instead of giving your animal companions cookies, rich snacks or sweets meant for people.
• Poisonous plants: Many popular holiday plants are poisonous to animals including mistletoe, holly, ornamental pepper and Christmas rose. Remember to keep these plants out of reach of pets – especially birds. Poinsettias are not poisonous to pets or people.
• Tinsel is trouble: Having a Christmas tree and pets can be troublesome. Ensure the tree is well-secured and try to place the decorations above paw height. If possible, use non-breakable ornaments. Avoid using tinsel or angel hair – cats and dogs will ingest both, which can cause intestinal problems. If you add chemicals to the water reservoir of your Christmas tree to help it last longer, keep in mind those chemicals are toxic to animals.
• Toy watch: Avoid purchasing pet toys with small or soft pieces that can be chewed and swallowed. Nylon bones tend to splinter less than plastic ones. Be sure to inspect pet toys regularly and discard deteriorating ones.
Some cold-weather safety tips:
• Make sure you thoroughly clean the pads of your pet’s paws after they’ve walked on sidewalks or roads to remove any coarse salt that can cause irritation. For your own sidewalk, choose a pet-friendly, non-corrosive de-icing compound readily available through retail outlets.
• Use pet-safe propylene-based antifreeze instead of ethylene glycol antifreeze, which is toxic to pets and wildlife. A mere tablespoon of ethylene glycol antifreeze can kill a cat or small dog.
• The SPCA is vehemently opposed to keeping pets permanently outdoors. However, if domestic or farm animals are kept outside, ensure they have access to shelter that is off the ground, provides protection from wind, cold and dampness and is properly insulated. Do regular checks to ensure drinking water has not frozen.