Top 5 Pet Tips for Happy Holidays

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Sonya Fitzpatrick helps make the holidays happier and safer with some simple pet tips.

In the rush of holiday cheer and chores, it's easy to forget our pets are animals, not four-legged people. Here are five things to remember as we head into the holiday season:

1. Food
    Pets cannot discern foods that are good for them and aren't. Remember to keep chocolate, coffee, tea, and other caffeinated food and drinks away from them. These items can cause seizures, coma, and even death. Just as with humans, dogs should not have excessive sugar in their diets. You may offer your dogs these human goodies: vegetables, lettuce, yams and carrots. Cooked turkey, chicken, lamb, beef and white fish are okay, but never raw products. To avoid the temptation of human food, make sure your pet has his or her own food.

2. Decorations
Make sure foil decorations are high enough that your pet can't reach them. Ornaments with wires or hooks also should be placed away from your pet's reach. Mistletoe, poinsettias, holly berries and ivy can be poisonous. Ribbons, yarns, strings, and other supplies used in gift wrapping should be off limits, too. If it makes you feel better, give your pet a holiday toy to keep it distracted.

3. Guests
    A home full of loving and noisy guests, particularly young ones, can be frightening to a pet. Create a quiet area for your pets to be away from all the hustle and bustle, particularly if your pet normally spends all day home alone. You might want to move the pet bed from the living room or kitchen to an out-of-the-way bathroom or bedroom (not the one with all the guests' coats thrown over the bed). Even if your pet is guest-friendly, your guests may not be. A sudden screech or the pull of a tail could lead to unwanted results.

4. Travel
Traveling, particularly long distances in a car, can be very stressful to you and your pets. Make sure your pet is secure in a purpose-built well-ventilated cage or a pet safety harness. You can also bring along a blanket that has the scent from home on it for added comfort. Bring bottled water from home so your pet doesn't have to deal with strange water that might result in an intestinal upset. And last, make sure your pets have up-to-date identification with your cell phone numbers on the tags in case they wander away in unfamiliar territory.

5. Memories
If you have lost a beloved pet in the past year, it is helpful to hang a stocking for them or buy them a gift so you can honor their memory. You can also create a special place for their things if it is especially difficult to get through the holidays without your best friend.

The Top 5 Pet Tips for Happy Holidays are courtesy of Sonya Fitzpatrick, one of the most widely recognized and respected animal communicators in the world. For more information, go to


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Bronagh Hanley
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