Pet Sitters International Offers Holiday Tips for Pet Owners

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With smart planning, the holidays can be a joyous time for people and their pets

If there is food left over, don't give it to your pet as a holiday treat

The holiday season is often the most joyous time of the year. However, joy can turn to tragedy if simple precautions are not taken to ensure the safety of your pets.

"Pets are curious by nature," said Dr. Steve Hansen, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist and senior vice president of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Hansen, whose department also includes the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, asks pet parents to be mindful of their pets this holiday season.

"Thinking about your home from your pet's point of view will help ensure everyone has happy and safe holidays," Hansen said. "Pets have the ability to get into everything, especially during the holidays when there is more to see and do."

Simple holiday traditions, such as trimming the tree and decorating the house, can pose potential problems to pets if not monitored carefully.

Dr. Leon Robbins, doctor of veterinary medicine at Grandview Animal Hospital near Winston-Salem, NC, warned that much like toddlers, pets are attracted to bright lights, shining ornaments and dangling tinsel.

"Many holiday decorations are hazardous to pets," said Robbins. "Try to use big, pet-friendly ornaments and keep the ornaments, as well as the lights, out of a pet's reach."

The most common pet-related emergency that occurs over the holidays is the consumption of human pharmaceuticals. Dr. Hansen said that many people keep their medications in daily pill minders, their luggage or even leave it lying out when staying with family or friends.

"All prescription and non-prescription drugs should be safely stored," Hansen said. "Even in small doses, human medications can be potentially lethal to pets."

Food is the culprit for the second most common holiday pet emergency. According to Dr. Robbins, pets should be kept on a normal diet, as it will alleviate digestive problems.

"If there is food left over, don't give it to your pet as a holiday treat," said Robbins. "Instead give baby carrots, green beans or broccoli as treats."

To ensure a happy and safe holiday season for you and your pets, PSI recommends that pet owners be cautious of the following:

  • Dark and baker's chocolate. While milk chocolate is not poisonous, it will cause your pet to have an upset stomach. On the other hand, dark chocolate and baker's chocolate contain high levels of theobromine and caffeine. Animals are extremely sensitive to both and ingesting either type of chocolate could be fatal.
  • Xylitol. This sugar substitute causes a dog's blood sugar to drop quickly. This poisoning can be treated, but causes liver failure if not treated properly.
  • Macadamia nuts. Dogs experience severe weakness in their back legs, appearing paralyzed, after ingesting macadamia nuts. Dogs usually recover from this condition within three days.
  • Avocados. Avocados pose a serious threat to birds. Avocados cause respiratory distress in birds, causing fluid to build up in their lungs.
  • Bread Dough. When bread dough is ingested it continues to rise, causing an intestinal blockage.

If your pet ingests any potentially harmful product, call your vet or a local emergency animal hospital immediately.

Pet Sitters International (PSI) offers pet owners these helpful hints to keep pets out of danger, while still enjoying the food, fun and festivities that accompany the holidays. For more information check out PSI's Pet Tips.

About Pet Sitters International
Established in 1994, Pet Sitters International (PSI) is the world's largest educational association for professional pet sitters, representing more than 8,000 independent professional pet-sitting businesses in the United States, Canada and abroad. PSI provides members with access to affordable bonding and liability insurance and educational resources such as PSI's Accreditation Program, The Pet Sitter's WORLD magazine, and PSI's annual Quest convention. PSI provides pet owners with The Pet Owner's WORLD magazine and For more information, visit, home of the Official Pet Sitter Locatorâ„¢ or visit the PSIStoreOnline to select from more than 2,000 pet sitter and pet owner products.

Contact: Courtney Klein
Phone: (336) 983-9222 ext. 318
Web site:

Contact: Terry Chance
Phone (336) 983-9222 ext. 314


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