HAVE A HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON - BUT DON'T FORGET ABOUT YOUR PETS HEALTH & SAFETY DURING ALL THE CELEBRATING!
Tips for Preventable Mishaps During the Hectic & Hazardous Holidays
(Toms River) - Here we go again! Another Holiday Season is upon us and the "to do" lists get longer and longer each day. One important item on that list should be keeping our precious pets healthy and safe throughout the hustle and bustle during this season of celebration.
"The Ocean County Health Department wants you to consider the potential health hazards that come with decorations, food, road trips, parties or having relatives and friends staying at your home during this festive time of year. Many of these things you may not think twice about until it's too late," explains Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. "Pets really are creatures of habit, so a change of routine or environment can be stressful."
Prevent a holiday disaster and trip to the veterinarian by following these tips:
- Keep people food out of the reach of your pet, and ask your guests to do the same.
- Make sure your pet doesn't have any access to treats, especially those containing chocolate, xylitol, grapes/raisins, onions or other toxic foods.
- Don't leave your pet alone in the room with lit candles, a decorated tree or potpourri.
- Keep holiday plants (especially holly, mistletoe and lilies) out of reach of pets.
- Consider leaving the tinsel off your tree if you have a cat.
- Secure your Christmas or Holiday tree to keep it from falling over if your dog bumps it or your cat climbs it. Hanging lemon-scented car air fresheners in the tree may deter your cat from climbing it.
- Pack for your pet as well as yourself if you’re going to travel together. In addition to your pet’s food and medications, this includes bringing copies of their medical records, information to help identify your pet if it becomes lost, first aid supplies, and other items.
- Pets in vehicles should always be safely restrained and should never be left alone in the car in any weather. Proper restraint means using a secure harness or a carrier, placed in a location clear of airbags. Never transport your pet in the bed of a truck.
- Provide a safe place for your pet to escape the excitement (such as a kennel, crate, perching place, scratching post shelf or hiding place) if you’re entertaining guests. If your pet is excitable or scared, consider putting your pet in another room with some toys and a comfortable bed.
- Even if your pets are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost.
- Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. That way, if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned to you. If your pet isn’t already micro chipped, talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of this simple procedure.
"Unfortunately we see an increase of pets that are brought to the county animal facilities because an owner loses their cat or dog while travelling or visiting," advises Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator. "That's why it is so important to microchip your pet. The Ocean County Animal Facilities have reunited hundreds of pets with their owners over the years because of the microchip. Otherwise many of those dogs or cats would never have been found by their owners."
Another important tip is to be prepared. Make sure you know how to get to your 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic before there’s an emergency. Talk with your veterinarian in advance to find out where you would need to take your pet, and plan your travel route so you’re not trying to find your way when stressed. Always keep these numbers posted in an easy-to-find location in case of emergencies:
- Your veterinarian’s clinic phone number
- 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic (if different)
- ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435.
"Don't let a mishap that you could've easily avoided ruin your holiday," Regenye added. Pets can sometimes find trouble but it's our job to keep them from harm's way."
For more information about pet health and safety, please click on the Ocean County Health Department website at www.ochd.org. Also, please check out our new website at www.phu2.org, to access and learn more about our Public Health is You Too! campaign to help equip you to take simple steps to improve your health.