Holiday hints for happy pets

Weight gain during the winter months is a problem for everybody, including dogs and cats. Some people think that because it’s the holiday's, its 'OK' to splurge on treats and snacks because their pets will lose the weight in the warmer months. It’s important to remember that like us, our pets need to maintain a healthy weight through counting calories, watching treats, and getting plenty of exercise and fun activities to keep them active during these often sedentary months.

 Some things that you can do to help your pet from packing on the 'winter fat' is to increase exercise and play activities indoors with your pets, decreasing food and treats given, and measuring the food they do get with a standard 8 oz. measuring cup or better yet, weighing on a kitchen scale. Follow the feeding guidelines on your pet’s food bag and making sure that your animal is getting their recommended calories. A good way to visually make sure your pet is keeping trim and fit is to check its body condition score. Go to Purina's website to view their body condition score chart.

 Another problem that adds to our pets gaining weight is that during the holidays it’s easy to slip Fido a piece of turkey or a chunk of cookie. Little do most people know that this seemingly harmless gesture can lead to a huge increase in calories for your pet. It is estimated that a single oatmeal cookie for a dog is the equivalent of a hamburger for a human and one ounce of cheese for a cat is like a person eating four chocolate bars! People food isn't the only thing that can be dangerous for our furry friends as we celebrate the season. During the holidays it is very common for us to decorate our homes with flashing lights, garland, shiny tinsel and beautiful plants that help us create the perfect festive mood. We often forget however, how curious and mischievous our pets can be and this can lead to exposure to other toxins and hazards. Common Holiday plants that are toxic to pets:

  • Poinsettia

  • Yew

  • Christmas Rose

  • Holly

  • Lilies (any type)

  • Iris

  • English Ivy

  • Mistletoe

  • Hydrangea

  • Tulip

  • Wisteria

  • Aloe

  • Lupine

  • Peace Lily

Other common holiday hazards to be mindful of:

  • Ribbons

  • Fire salts

  • De-icing salts

  • Christmas tree water

  • Cold and flu medication

  • Tinsel

  • Candles

  • Bones (any)

  • Ornaments

  • Antifreeze

Keep all these holiday hazards out of reach of your pet to prevent emergencies and an unplanned trip to my office, and have a safe and happy holiday season!

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