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Avoid the holiday pet mischief

Local veterinarian gives some helpful tips to make sure your pets stay out of trouble during the fes

Posted: December 13, 2013 11:17 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2013 11:17 p.m.
The holidays can be a festive, yet hectic time of year. The holidays can be a festive, yet hectic time of year.
The holidays can be a festive, yet hectic time of year.

The holidays can be a festive, yet hectic time of year. For pets, the whirlwind of activity and distracted humans can present a prime opportunity to get into mischief or worse.

“We definitely see an increase of patients come in over the holidays that have ingested something toxic or harmful,” said Dr. Evelyn Vega, veterinarian and owner of Happy Pets Veterinary Center in Valencia. “It can only take a minute for a dog to get into something they shouldn’t and become very ill.”

Other scenarios can include a pet escaping through a door left open by visitors or becoming dangerously cold in unexpectedly harsh winter weather.

“People really just need to keep an eye on their pets during the holiday season, just like a parent would with little kids,” Vega said.  “By doing so, pets can be safely included in the family festivities, as they should be.”

In order to avoid holiday cheer turning into a veterinary visit or a trip to the shelter to search for a lost pet, Dr. Vega offered the following tips:

• Do not give a pet table scraps such as meat or gravy, which are too rich and can cause stomach upset. If you must give your pet a little something extra for the holidays, make it a high-quality treat from a trusted pet food manufacturer.

• Some human foods are toxic or fatal to pets and should be avoided at all costs (see box). For example, just 5 macadamia nuts can be toxic to a 10 pound dog.

• The same rule holds true for alcoholic beverages or alcohol produced by unbaked yeast dough, fermenting garbage or fruits, hand sanitizers, chafing fuels, and cleaners (such as window cleaners).

• Salt is another source of potential illness for dogs and cats. If you have a salt lick for pocket pets such as rabbits or guinea pigs, make sure it is not accessible to your dog or cat.

• Keep all trash out of the reach of pets.

• Holiday plants and flowers are beautiful, but the flowers and leaves can be toxic to pets. In some cases, such as lilies, the pollen and vase water alone can cause acute kidney failure in cats.  Display arrangements well away from your pets reach or if the arrangement is known to be toxic, take it to work.

• Winter temperatures, even in sunny Southern California, can be hazardous to pets. Unless you have a Malamute or Husky, which have been bred to live in cold climates, avoid having your pet outside in chilly weather.

• If your pet must be outside during the day, make sure you provide proper bedding and shelter and bring the pet in at night. (Note, it is potentially life-threatening to leave a toy breed, puppy less than six months old or an elderly pet outside in weather of 30 degrees or less).

• For skittish pets, it may be best to spend time in a quiet, enclosed room rather than interact with a houseful of strangers. Provide your pets’ favorite bedding, plus food and water for the duration of the stay – and consider turning on the TV or radio for extra company. (Dogs should be given their regular potty breaks and a litter box should be placed in the room for cats).

• Make sure your pet has an updated tag with all your current contact information. For additional security, get your pet micro-chipped at a local vet or clinic. The chip can be scanned for contact information should a collar and tag fall off.

• If your pet does make its way out an open door, immediately call the nearest animal shelter to see if your pet has been turned in. Ask your neighbors if they’ve seen your pet, place flyers around the neighborhood, and contact for additional assistance.

Happy Pets Veterinary Center is located at 27550 Newhall Ranch Road, Valencia. For more information, visit or call (661) 295-9972.


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