by Julia Bayly
Holidays can be busy with people coming and going, an abundance of seasonal food and a higher level of home activity. All of this makes it joyous for people, but the furry and feathered members of the family may find it a bit much.
The last thing you want are holiday festivities resulting in a missing pet or an emergency trip to a veterinarian.
There is no reason pets should not be a part of family gatherings or parties, according to veterinarians. All it takes is some planning and making sure you know and respect your pets’ limits.
A cat’s natural curiosity makes anything string-like an issue. That includes tinsel tree decorations or ribbons on wrapped packages. They want to play with anything stringlike and they can ingest it.
Another string-shaped hazard are Christmas lights and the extension cords that power them. Keeping wires covered prevents pets from chewing on them and risking shocks and electrical burns.
Ornaments — especially treasured heirlooms and glass decorations — should be hung higher up on a Christmas tree and out of reach of playful cats or rambunctious dogs who may knock them down. The last thing you need are shards of broken glass all over the floor that can slice pets’ or people’s feet. Glass can also be very dangerous when ingested by pets.
The safest thing is to avoid putting any decorations on the lower branches of a Christmas tree.
The tree can be a danger on its own, according to veterinary professionals. Cats in particular may be delighted to have an indoor tree to climb and explore or to use as a scratching post. It’s a good idea to use a sturdy tree stand and to tie the top of the tree to wall or ceiling hooks to prevent it falling over thanks to a cat in the branches.
Block off any access to the water for the tree because it can upset dog and cat stomachs. And swallowed tree needles can get stuck in your pet’s digestive system and need to be surgically removed.
The very nature of a holiday gathering makes it a bit of a minefield for cats and dogs.
Guests often bring large bags or purses into the house and set them on the floor.
Most pets are curious and will want to nose around inside anything within reach. So keep bags and purses off the floor so your pet can’t get any holiday food in shopping bags or medications, candy or gum in a purse.
It’s also a good idea to routinely scan your floor and make sure there are no small, plastic toys or batteries around that a dog could pick up and chew or swallow. Batteries contain zinc that can cause renal damage in dogs. Chewing on hard plastic toys or game pieces can break a dog’s tooth.
Food is a huge part of the holidays and all those wonderful smells are as inviting to your pet as they are to you.“Especially for dogs I like to talk about treats,” Townsend said. “Chocolate is one really to watch out for — it probably won’t kill them, but in large enough amounts it can make your dog sick or even cause seizures.”
By Traci Howerton
Considering adding a new pet to the family this holiday season? Pets are a great investment, providing countless hours of joy, entertainment and companionship. However, they do come with a financial commitment.
Ongoing costs should be taken into account when deciding if a new pet is right for your family. Before making the long-term commitment of pet ownership, know what the many expenses will involve.
Pet care is something that should have a continuing spot in the household monthly budget. The costs vary greatly depending on the type and number of pets. Planning ahead is a great idea so that all routine expenses are accounted for, as well as the unexpected costs that may come up from time to time.
I can tell you from personal experience as the owner of two senior pets that, as they age, the expenses are greater, the trips to the vet are more frequent, and pets can generally become more high maintenance. We currently have three vets — one primary and two specialists — for two dogs!
Vet visits will be one of the biggest expenditures in the pet-care budget. Plan for regular check-ups and vaccinations, as well as monthly heartworm and flea preventatives.
Puppies and kittens will initially need several rounds of vaccinations and spay/neuter. They will also need to be microchipped.
Most rescues and shelters take care of the initial vaccinations, spay/neuter and microchipping and include these expenses, typically at a discounted rate, in their adoption fees.
Keep in mind that, just like humans, pets may need an unexpected trip to the vet for an ailment or injury, so budget for these unplanned costs as well.
HealthDay News — Anyone who’s ever loved a pet like a member of the family knows that the grief when that dog, cat or other furry friend dies can be devastating.
But too often, finding others who truly understand and support that sense of loss can be challenging.
Michelle Crossley, a mental health counselor, and Colleen Rolland, a pet loss grief specialist, have each experienced deep bereavement after losing a much-loved pet.
Rolland is a pet loss grief specialist for the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB) and has a small private practice in Ontario, Canada. She said her own loss of a beloved Golden Retriever left her “in a puddle on the floor.”
As a pet loss grief specialist, Rolland is trained specifically in the extreme grief over the loss of a pet, but when that loss triggers feelings about childhood grief or other traumas, she and others like her refer those individuals to a trained mental health specialist.
One of the reasons for the paper was an awareness that not all mental health specialists understand the depth of the human-animal bond, and so are not able to provide what feels like an emotionally safe environment for someone experiencing that grief, Rolland said.
“That person just turns even more inward and the grief and the suffering just continues to go on,” she added.
Pet loss is just one type of loss that is not as widely acknowledged or given attention by society, according to the study authors. Among the others are death by suicide or from AIDS and pregnancy loss/miscarriage.
Grief may become more complicated when it’s ‘disenfranchised,’ Rolland said.
A disenfranchised grief is one that is important to the individual, but which is unacknowledged as important by society and not needing the same social support, the report noted.