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By Dr. Stephanie Liff, D.V.M.

The cooler temperatures are finally here which means the NYC population isn’t running to the beach every weekend; and the start of fall and winter holiday seasons are abound. However, for your pets, this season may introduce new risks and things to look out for. In recognition of our favorite fall holidays, let’s review safety tips for your pets.  

The most popular holiday for family gatherings is Thanksgiving. This celebration oft en inv olves dec adent tables full of tasty treats as well as travel to your family or hosting visiting guests in your home.

Sure, turkey in moderation is fine for most pets, but remember your pet largely eats the same diet for every meal every day and may have a negative reaction to new treats. If you want your pet to partake in the festive meal, please restrict access to a limited amount of lean protein if they can tolerate that. Avoid any skin or bones that can cause GI obstruction or pancreatitis.

Not every pet is welcoming of new people in their home, so if your pet struggles with this, talk to your vet IN ADVANCE to discuss how to manage this. Their recommendations may include medication to be given, so you need some time to obtain the medication and make sure it has the intended affects on your pet.

If travel is in your plans, please make sure your pet is up to date on vaccines, to facilitate intrastate or international travel. You may also need sedatives, so ask your vet well in advance. Also, if your pet is on medication make sure you have plenty for the duration of the trip. Finally, if travel is not inclusive of your pet, make sure you have a trusted pet sitter or day care facility lined up. This is a busy time and availability can be limited! 

Next up on the holiday schedule is Christmas and Hannukah. Between wrapping paper, tinsel on the trees and Holly plants, a decorated home is beautiful, but it can also be lethal to a pet.

Yes, dogs love to chase crumpled wrapping paper. But many of these papers (usually the cheaper versions) contain chemicals that can be harmful to your pet. You can still throw the crumpled up ball of Christmas joy down the hall for your dog to chase it, but make sure that he or she does not ingest it.

Holly plants are lethal to dogs, and children. Specifically the berries on these beautiful, seasonal plants are toxic. If you want to have them in your home, please make sure that they are out of reach of your dog, cat or child. Signs of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy, but it is safest to just not allow your pet access to these plants at all. Other toxic plants include Lilies and poinsettia; Lily toxicity can be fatal to cats and Poinsettia can cause irritation of the mouth, stomach and esophagus, so again, please prevent access for your pets.

Tinsel is one of those decorations that have caused argument after argument across many families. Some love them for their simple shine and ability to add accent to a Christmas tree. Some hate them because they are messy and when the family dog eats them, their poop is often lined with silver-streaks. Tinsel is okay to use, like many things, in moderation. Just be mindful that if your dog does ingest tinsel, you must monitoring the dog’s defecation. If your dog is having trouble passing tinsel, and you see some hanging out of their rectum as they poop, please do not pull the tinsel string out. You can damage your dog’s rectum and intestines. Normally, a dog can express these kinds of things out with some effort (you will note the dog may “rock back and forth” on its hind legs a little as it tries to ease the tinsel out). However, if your dog is distressed and this is the reason, then you need to contact your vet or an animal ER. It is better to err on the side of caution here.

Dr. Stephanie Liff is the owner of Pure Paws Veterinary Care