Keep both pets and your Christmas decorations safe by avoiding these seven hazards

 

Christmas Tree

If you buy a real tree, skip the tree fertilizer, and keep pets from treating the stagnant water as their personal water bowl. Got a climber on your hands? To keep your dog or cat away from the base of the tree, use crumpled-up paper, a plastic bottle filled with beans, or anything else that creates noise at the base of the tree. This trick may scare them off, or at least warn of their approach in time for you to intervene.

Delicate Ornaments
To protect your pet and your valuable family decorations, make sure that small or breakable ornaments are placed higher on the tree. In addition to being a choking and intestinal blockage hazards, shards from broken glass ornaments may potentially injure their little paws and mouths.

Batteries and Small Toys
Every parent knows the joy of watching kids rip into Santa’s bounty on Christmas morning—followed by an afternoon of stepping on errant Legos, stray batteries, or tiny dollhouse pieces. Pets, too, discover these items and will eat them without proper supervision. These small pieces can get stuck in their intestinal tract, a condition that requires surgical removal.

Candy
Southern grandmothers are famous for scattering bowls of bite-sized sweets around the house during the holidays. Unfortunately, this can be dangerous if you’ve got curious (or particularly agile) pets. Small hard candies are choking hazards to pets without strong teeth and jaws, and chocolate is a long-known toxin to all animals, requiring a potentially expensive emergency visit to the vet. To be safe, keep these treats out of a pet’s reach. 

Small Bones 
Serving a holiday feast to your pets will only make them sick; thus, direct your table scraps into the trash rather than their food bowl. Particularly dangerous are turkey and chicken bones—not only can these cause blockages in the intestines, but they can splinter and break, causing punctured internal organs.

Festive Foliage
Deck the halls to your heart’s content, but remember: Holly and mistletoe, both popular seasonal decorations, can cause vomiting and severe stomach upset in pets if ingested. Keep the mistletoe securely fashioned over a doorway, well out of your pet’s domain.

Twinkle Lights
Keep strands of sparkling lights away from the bottom few branches of your Christmas tree, beyond the reach of your pet’s curious sniffing. Not only can pets get tangled in string lights, but these strands can give them a potentially life-threatening electrical shock if a pet bites through the wire. Tape extra lengths of electrical cord to the wall or a nearby piece of furniture.

 More from Southern Living and it’s writers here http://www.southernliving.com/christmas/christmas-pet-safety

 

Homeward Bound Total Wellness 

Hiring someone to watch over your pets? Here is what you need to know!

To begin the search, you might ask for recommendations from your vet, dog trainer or local Humane Society office or check the databases for the National Assn. of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International .

Those are, by no means, the only ones. You can find other options by searching online or asking friends and family.

To begin, start with a telephone interview and ask lots of questions.

Here are a few to start with:

1. Does the pet sitter have the proper business license for your city or state, if required? Rules and regulations vary regarding what is required to legally operate a business. If your city or state requires a business license, any professional pet sitter you use should have a valid business license. While pet sitters care for your pet at your home, some do offer limited in-their-home boarding. If so, ensure that they also have the proper authorization and license to offer this service as well.

2. Is the pet sitter insured and bonded? Ask for proof of coverage. PSI members have access to group rates on policies specifically for petsitters and are provided insurance cards.

3. Can the pet sitter provide proof of clear criminal history? Remember, the person you choose to hire will have access to your property and your beloved animal companion(s). Ask for third-party credentials that verify the sitter has a history of honesty and integrity. Official verification documents will contain a current date (within one year), a Social Security number trace, county-level court search results and the contact information of a reputable investigator. This documentation can provide the peace of mind you seek when admitting a new pet-care provider to your home.

4. Does the pet sitter provide client references? PSI recommends that all of its members have a list of references for potential clients to contact. Some pet sitters also include testimonials on their company websites or on their PSI Locator profiles.

5. Will the pet sitter use a pet-sitting services agreement or contract? A well-written contract outlines the details associated with each service the sitter will provide. The contract includes all fees along with the expected amount of time that will be spent with your pet(s). This ensures that both you and your sitter have agreed on and understand the level of service being provided in your absence.

6. Has the pet sitter completed PSI’s Certificate in Professional Pet Sitting Program and/or has he or she participated in pet-care training, such as pet first aid? Experience in caring for special needs pets or various types of pets is helpful if that is what you need. Pet sitters who have completed PSI’s Certificate in Professional Pet Sitting Program have the resources on hand to care for a wide variety of companion animal species.

7. Is the pet sitter a member of a professional and educational association, such as Pet Sitters International? Membership in a professional association such as PSI demonstrates a pet sitter’s commitment to their profession and the industry at large. PSI members have access to the most up-to-date educational resources and business tools to help them provide the best possible service to clients and their pets.