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For family pets, dangers lurk in New Year’s celebrations

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Festivities are well under way and while most of the holiday preparation is done, revelers should not forget about one important member – the family pet.

Cold temperatures, distractions, holiday foods, added stress, an increase in visitors and time away from home can present dangers for feline and canine companions.

Sherry Moyer, a veterinarian with Bernalillo County, said one thing people should keep in mind is how well dogs do with visitors. She said some are fine and enjoy the increase in visitors, while others don’t and the extra activity could create stress and anxiety for them.

“Dogs who do not like visitors, keep them separated from the hustle and bustle,” she said. “Give them toys they like. Put them in a quiet room with soothing music or in their crate.”

According to Bernalillo County Animal Care Services Department, it’s also a time of year a pet is likely to ingest something that could kill or injure them. Many holiday foods can be dangerous to animals including chocolate, garlic, onions and grapes. Even festive plants pose a danger. Moyer said lilies can be deadly and mistletoe, holly berries and poinsettias all have some degree of toxicity to pets.

It’s also the time of year, she said, pets are more likely to get into the trash because of all the discarded leavings such as bones, skin and juices. She said some people might even be tempted to include their pets in the holiday fun by sharing human food.

“I recommend not feeding them these foods,” she said. “They are higher in fat than their normal diet and it could cause pancreatitis.”

Pancreatitis is a swelling of the pancreas. In addition, Moyer recommends those with cats not use tinsel or string for decorating. If swallowed, they can create problems such as perforations in the intestines. She suggests using larger ornaments that can’t be swallowed by pets.

If pets accidentally ingest poison, contact a local veterinarian or the National Animal Poison Control Center immediately at 1-855-774-7661. Signs to look for include lethargy, increased salivating, loss of appetite, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea.

Following is a list of additional tips from Bernalillo County, Animal Humane New Mexico and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:

• Bring cats and dogs indoors during cold weather. According to the local humane society, “It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are resistant to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia.”

• Keep snow globes out of reach. Some of the globes made outside of the United States use antifreeze as part of the liquid mix. A teaspoon of antifreeze can poison a cat and it only takes a tablespoon to poison a dog.

• Monitor burning candles. Do not leave unattended around pets.

• Eliminate the use of confetti on New Year’s Eve as it can get lodged in a cat’s intestines.

• Put pets in a safe, escape-proof area or room on New Year’s Eve. Pets have sensitive hearing and might become terrified of noisy poppers or fireworks and try to flee.

• Speak with family and friends visiting for the holidays about not feeding pets and securing exits when arriving or leaving the residence.

• Place wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of reach.

• Set alcoholic drinks in a place pets cannot access.

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