Pet Safety

by Lee Dobbins

Your home might be “kid-proof” but how does it measure up when it comes to safety for your pet? Do you know all the hazards your pet is exposed to? How about what plants are poisonous and what foods should be avoided?

Caring for your pet is more than just making sure he has enough food, water and gets the appropriate veterinary care, it also means providing a pet safe environment so that your furry, feathered or scaly friend can stay safe and healthy. Unfortunately, there are many hazards your pet is exposed to each day that could put them in danger. Being aware of them so that you can keep your pet out of harms way is the responsibility of every pet owner.

Sometimes your guests can be the biggest hazard to your pet. If you have indoor pets, your quests may not realize this and open doors or windows around them that could allow them to “escape” to the great outdoors. Well meaning dinner guests and party go-ers could overfeed your pet and cause him to become ill. Imagine if you had 20 guests and each one fed “treats” to your pet! To insure pet safety when you have guests try keeping the pet in a crate or another room that the quests will not be allowed into. This may actually be more comfortable for your pet too as it may make him nervous to have so many people around if he is not used to it. Instruct your guests not to let the animals outside if they should get into the main house. Make sure your pet wears tags so he can be identified and return should he get out by mistake.

The holidays should be enjoyed by both you and your pets, so keep pet safety in mind when decorating and celebrating. Remember that small objects can cause an intestinal blockage if eaten so be sure to remove all tinsel, Easter grass, confetti, small toys and wrapping paper. Don’t leave candles unattended with pets near. Pet costumes can be cute, but make sure there are no lose strings that could choke your pet or that he can get his limbs caught in. It is best to not leave your pet unattended when you have him dressed up. Make sure electrical cords are kept away for pets especially puppies. They can chew through the cord and get burned or even electrocuted. After decorating for a holiday, make sure to observe your pet around the new decorations for several hours to see if they develop any unsafe habits around certain items – you may need to remove or rethink your decorating if it looks like there could be a hazard. I had a ferret that liked to jump into the tree and grab all the shiny ornaments so I stopped decorating the bottom of the tree to prevent this as I was afraid the glass would break and injure her!

When feeding your pet treats, it is important to know that they should not eat certain foods. In general “people food” should be given to pets sparingly if at all, but some foods can be toxic. Most of the greasy holiday foods that we love to eat are not good for them and overfeeding can make them ill. In particular do not feed them chocolate – it can be fatal especially to cats. So make sure you move those valentine candies, Easter eggs and chocolate Santas out of pets reach. Other foods to avoid are onions, alcohol and poultry bones. In addition, birds should not be fed avocados, dairy products, fruit seeds, potatoes, cabbage, green beans, lemons, rhubarb, grapefruit, plums and, of course, caffeine, chocolate, and alchohol. Any of these can be harmful and even fatal to your feathered friend! Also, keep in mind that the fumes from non stick pans can be fatal for pet birds so keep your bird out of the kitchen, or better yet, switch to cast iron pans.

When decorating with plants either for the holidays or just in general, keep pet safety in mind. There are many toxic plants but common toxic holiday plants include potted bulbs, ivy, holly, mistletoe and greens (contrary to popular belief poinsettia are not overly dangerous but I still wouldn’t let my pet eat one!). This is not an exhaustive list so before you bring any new plant into the house please research it’s toxicity.

It’s just as important to look out for your pets safety outside as it is inside. Beware that antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets. Keep your pet away from any puddles that might contain it. Rock salt can be irritating to pet paws and also to their stomach if eaten or licked off the paws. Use common sense when practicing pet safety during the winter months.

About the Author

Lee Dobbins is a pet lover, pet owner and webmaster of where you can find information on pet health, safety and products.

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