The holiday season is a time for everyone to share in the joy, including your much beloved pets, right? Wrong.
While it can be the most wonderful time of the year for humans, This time of year is filled with safety risks and health hazards for our animal companions. Those dangers can be compounded for new pets who are brought into households as holiday gifts.
This 3 month old Poodle pup waits for his forever home at our Forked River shelter.
“Many well-meaning pet owners place their furry family members in peril because they wrongfully think their cats or dogs will enjoy the holidays the same way we do. That’s just not so,” said Roseann Trezza, Executive Director, Associated Humane Societies/Popcorn Park. “What’s more, many people get a loved one a pet as a holiday present, when this is probably the worst time of year to do so.”
Any animal, especially a puppy or kitten, needs a quiet time of adjustment when being brought into a new home. The holidays, with all of the visitors, parties, decorations and goodies, will certainly add to an animal’s stress as he or she tries to get used to a new family and environment.
“We recommend waiting until after the holiday season to find that new family addition. This way, the gift recipient can help choose the perfect companion. But if you want to show your loved one that a pet is on its way, why not place some wrapped up pet supplies under the tree with a homemade gift certificate?”
For pets that already have happy homes, owners must take special care during this time of year to make sure Fifi and Fido stay happy and healthy through the New Year. Associated Humane Societies offers these tips:
Munchkin hopes for a happy holiday for life! He waits at our Forked River shelter, too.
Keep decorations and other trimmings out of pets’ reach. Ribbon, tinsel, garlands, broken holiday ornaments and extension cords can make for attractive chew toys for cats and dogs. However, once they find their way into a pet’s intestines, they can cause injury and even death. Holiday plants that are used to decorate, like holly and mistletoe can be poisonous.
Keep pets on their regular daily diets. All those cookies, snacks and heavy foods certainly make for great eating. But, even giving pets the table scraps from the holiday dinner may do more harm than good. Bones from turkey and other meats can splinter and dramatically harm a pet’s digestive tract. In addition, too much rich, fatty food can cause a variety of problems for dogs and cats. And some foods, which we enjoy like chocolates, grapes and raisins, can be poisonous to pets.
Leave your pet home. Pets left in wintertime cars are just as much in danger as in the summer heat. Once the motor is turned off, the car becomes a refrigerator locking in the cold. Also, many pets are stolen when left unattended in cars.
Keep pets out of the cold. Despite their permanent fur coats, cold weather can be dangerous to pets. Animals can get frostbite. Dogs kept inside a majority of the time do not build up a heavier coat so they cannot be left outside for long periods of time. Outdoor animals require extra calories to maintain their body temperature.
Take shorter walks. Puppies and older dogs are less tolerant of the cold. Exercise is still necessary, but should be minimized. Consider getting your pup a sweater or coat of his own and some booties to protect their paws.
Check the paws. When your pet comes in from outside, check its paws for salt, ice and snow, which can be damaging and a cause of frostbite. Thoroughly wipe paws and under belly for damaging salt, ice, snow, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals.
Water is vital for animals year round. If you keep water outside for your pets or wildlife, be sure to check to make sure they are filled and have not frozen over. Munchkin’s holidays would be happier with a forever home. He’s available for adoption at the AHS Forked River Animal Care Center.
Use safe antifreeze. Many types of antifreeze are poisonous to pets and children and their sweet smell and bright color make them appealing. Look for nontoxic antifreeze such as Sierra Antifreeze which is safe for kids, pets and wildlife.
Bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting your engine. Many cats and wildlife sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. Animals can be injured or killed when the motor is started.
Don’t forget your wildlife friends. If you feed birds and squirrels, continue during the cold weather as they rely on your daily snacks, especially if the ground becomes covered with snow.
Be an angel. This time of year, AHS receives many complaints from caring individuals who see pets left tied outside without shelter or food and water. If you witness a neglectful situation contact the Associated Humane Societies, the NJ SPCA or your local animal control. If you are aware of cruelty but do not know who to contact, please notify us and we will direct your complaint to someone near you.
Consider adopting a dog or cat after the holiday season. There are hundreds of dogs and cats waiting for adoption at the Associated Humane Societies’ three shelters in Forked River, Tinton Falls and Newark. To see some of the animals looking for new homes log on to Petfinder.
If you can’t personally take in a pet, consider sponsoring one of our lovely dogs or cats through the Share-A-Pet program. Help support them, come down and visit with them, send treats for them - you just may fall in love! And please consider at this special time of year making a donation to help us share the happiness with all those in our care.