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Mon. homespun webRISMEDIA, November 16, 2009—Gone are the green days of summer, replaced by the changing leaves of autumn- a reminder that it’s the perfect time to refresh your pet IQ before any holiday-related dangers come to haunt you. Most savvy pet owners know the usual pet-safety tips about poisonous items in the home, like poinsettias and chocolate. But, as many veterinarians can tell you, that is just the beginning.

Many holidays are celebrated between the months of October and January, meaning that extra food, guests and dangers for pets are right around the corner. Keep these tips from the American Humane Association in mind as you prepare your holiday festivities.

Ringing Doorbell = Nervous Breakdown?

Many pets are agitated by the sound of doorbells, especially since their hearing is much more sensitive than ours. If your dogs bark, run and jump when new people arrive at the house, or if your cat runs for cover, consider disengaging the doorbell and putting a sign on the door to ask guests to “knock please.” Provide an open cage large enough for your animal to stand and fully turn around in, and place it in a quiet room away from the hubbub so your pet can choose when to join your party. This will also help keep your pet from running away during the frequent opening and closing of your door if you keep the cage closed.

“No” to the Five-Second Rule

Sometimes we forget what can fall on the floor when we are cooking for a holiday crowd and there’s a pet around. Some of it may be OK, but other things, like bread dough, can cause problems. When an animal ingests dough, its body heat causes the dough to rise in its stomach, leading to bloat or worse. It’s best to let your pet snack on familiar favorites instead of unfamiliar holiday goodies like candy and other people’s food.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Cats and other animals may seek out your car engine for warmth during the winter months, so honk the horn or bang on the hood a few times before starting the engine.

Adjust Your Pet’s Diet

Most pets spend more time indoors during the winter, which means their activity level drops and they need less food. However, if your pet does spend a lot of time outdoors in cold weather, he will need more food as he burns calories to keep warm. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on the proper diet for your pet.

Ice, Snow and Salt

Your pet may like taking a stroll outside when the temperature dips, but many people use powerful salts on their sidewalks to combat the ice. Clean your pet’s paws after your outing to prevent its pads from becoming irritated and dried out.

Don’t Forget Your Feathered Friends

Getting ready for holiday gatherings usually means extra cleaning before guests arrive. Fumes from rug shampoo, furniture polish and oven cleaner can be fatal to a bird if they enter its delicate respiratory system. When using these products, keep them away from birds, and open your windows to let the air flow.

Just Because It’s Cold Doesn’t Mean They Can’t Catch a Bug

Mosquitoes and other bugs can be a year-round problem. Remember to keep your pets on their regular heartworm, flea and tick preventive medicines, even during the winter.

In Addition to Poinsettias

Holly, amaryllis, mistletoe and pine needles can be harmful to your pet’s stomach. Go for the fake versions to keep your traditions, and your pet, alive.

If They Like Toilet Water, They’ll Probably Like Tree Water

Both cats and dogs may find Christmas tree water irresistible, so if you add a tree preservative to the water, make sure it is pet friendly. Better yet, use a tree stand designed to prevent pets from accessing the water, which can harbor bacteria.

More Temptation Lies in the Tree

With its glittering lights and natural climbing area, the Christmas tree may offer a new place for your cat to play. Hang your most valuable or breakable ornaments near the top and cat-friendly ornaments on the bottom.

For more information, visit www.americanhumane.org.

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