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Casper Critters

Keeping Your Dog Safe this Holiday Season

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11/01/2009 - By Gayle M. Irwin

With recent snowfall and cold temperatures as well as the reminder from the calendar on the wall, the holidays are fast approaching. Hustling and bustling, buying and wrapping, baking and cooking can lead to neglect of our pets. Take a few moments to remember your furry friend and to keep him/her safe this holiday season. Here are some tips:

1. Don't neglect your dog's daily walk and exercise. Routine is the key to an emotionally healthy pet. Our dogs need this daily routine, not just for emotional stability as their human companions scurry hither and yon, but also they need the daily ritual for their overall physical health just like us!

2. After returning from a walk, clean your dog's paws of the ice, snow and other materials picked up along the way. Snow and ice can be painful on pet paws, and material such as ice melt for sidewalks may be ingested by your pet as s/he cleans itself, which can cause medical problems. Do the paw cleaning for your pet for better safeguards.

3. Speaking of outdoors and dangers, remember that anti-freeze poisons pets, so keep your pet away from the garage and driveway, and those of your neighbors. Watch where you and your pet walk and keep your furry friend away from anti-freeze!

4. With front doors opening and closing to welcome friends and relatives and for buzzing out the door for Thanksgiving food shopping and Christmas-present buying, keep in mind where Fido and Fluffy are. Pets can zip out that front door very quickly if we're not mindful of their location in the house or how long that front has been open or how many times it opened that day a lost pet is a scared pet so avoid the "missing pet" situation from the start.

5. Make sure your pets have collar and ID tags in case they do become lost they can get home more quickly. You may also want to invest the small amount of money needed for your vet to implant a microchip. Collar and tags can become lost themselves, and pets turned into the local animal shelter are scanned for microchips. Make sure your pet can get home more quickly with identification (and make sure that identification is up-to-date!)

6. Holidays often mean great food feasts. Don't give your pets turkey or chicken bones (dangerous!) or rich foods like gravy (upset tummies!) Similar to the routine of the walking and other exercise, keep your pets' food routines during the holidays it's best for everyone no matter how sad his/her eyes look upon you for that piece of pumpkin pie!

7. All this excitement, running around, and extra guests can cause our pets stress. Make sure there's a quiet place for your dog or cat to get away from the noise and activity, a quiet room in the house containing things with which your pet is familiar: your pet's bed or special blanket, your pet's toys, and food and water dishes. Just as people need "down time", our pets also need a peaceful spot where they are comfortable and secure.

Enjoy the holidays, stay warm during this early winter, and help keep your pets safe this holiday season!


Gayle Irwin is a former journalist and humane and conservation educator. She is the author of two children's books: Sage's Big Adventure (2007) and Sage Learns to Share (2009). Her publication credits include a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Lessons Learned from the Dog, released in September. She is a speaker in schools and also the proud "pet parent" of two adopted dogs, who serve as characters in her books. Gayle plans several area book signings in November and December. For more information about her writing and speaking, visit www.sagestory.com and www.gaylemirwin.com.

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