Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Annual Christmas Downer Post

This morning I received an email from a friend whose dog just spent some quality time at the vet's--and still is not feeling up to par. The reason? Ingestion of a couple of Christmas Tree decorations. All paws crossed for Toki's speedy recovery. He's a lucky dog because the humans in his life are close observers of his health status and took quick action. But his misadventure reminded me that I am late with my Annual Christmas Warning Regarding Pets. Where to begin? At Christmastime, we bring all manner of novel and potentially toxic items into our homes. We are busy and preoccupied, and that forms a dangerous mix for dogs and cats. Right now I have seven Poinsettia plants arranged around my living and dining rooms. I am trying to keep them well-watered, so that leaves don't fall on the floor where Bingley and Magic might ingest them. I have no Mistletoe this year, but it, too, is a deadly poison. Then, there are substances like chocolate, which flood our homes during this season, but which can be deadly to our canine and feline companions. Every time you bring something novel into your home, think about its potential impact on your pets. And as cheery as a lighted Christmas Tree is in your front window, don't leave your tree lights on when you are away from home. Your pet can chew on a wire and create a hazard both to himself and to your house. And since I am deeply into Grinch territory, I might as well go all the way and remind you that it is not a good idea to give a live animal as a Christmas gift. Of course, you would never dream of "surprising" someone with a puppy or kitten, for whom the recipient is totally unprepared! But it is also true that most homes are too much out of regular routine during the holidays to provide a calm setting in which the new family member can make an optimal adjustment. Wait until "normal" is re-established after New Year's to bring your dog or cat, puppy or kitten home. Finally, a gift suggestion for the recipient who has everything. Why not make a donation in their name to a rescue. If you don't have a favorite rescue, consult the list on the right hand side of the screen. And that's not a "Grinchy" suggestion, but goes to the heart of giving. Do choose a rescue that is involved with the actual rescue and placement of homeless pets. (Hint: although their advertisements lead you to believe otherwise, the United States Humane Society does NOT act as an actual rescue.) Give to a local organization that you can check out personally.

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