From left, Alfie and Lucy, who belong to My Buckhannon writer, Sarah Goodrich, urge all humans to do their best to keep dogs and cats safe this winter.

How to have a crisis-free Christmas with the furry critters in your home

BUCKHANNON – With the temperatures turning brisk and the Christmas season in full swing, it’s critical not to forget about our furry friends during the holiday jubilation.

Dr. Erin McGee, Dr. Chelsea Lambert and staff at the Buckhannon Animal Clinic provided My Buckhannon with pet safety pointers to pass along to its readers.

With temperatures dropping in the 30s and some areas seeing snow already, McGee and Lambert recommend that pet owners limit the amount of time pets are outside.

“We recommend going for short walks and to wash off their feet when they come back in where they walk through salt,” the local vets suggest. “Be sure to check their feet for any cuts from ice or signs of frostbite as well.”

In fact, within municipal bounds, Ordinance 424 of the City of Buckhannon prohibits pet owners from tethering or tying up domesticated animals in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

The local animal clinic also recommends using pet safe salt when using salt to de-ice driveways and stairs.

For outdoor pets, pet owners need to make sure pets have good insulation in outdoor homes and use straw as bedding. McGee and Lambert advise against using blankets as they can get wet and freeze.

Short-haired pets not accustomed to cold temperatures may benefit from pet jackets or booties while outdoors.

For stray and feral cats, folks can provide housing using plastic containers with foam inserts and bedding.

“Be sure to raise the box off the ground and cover any holes with flaps, towels or blankets,” suggests Buckhannon Animal Clinic staff.

Also, tapping on your car hood in the morning is wise as stray cats tend curl up for warmth during cold nights.

During the holidays – and really any day – it might be tempting to treat your pet with leftovers. However, McGee and Lambert said foods not safe to give pets include bones, fatty food, chocolate, grapes, raisins, foods with artificial sweetener (xylitol) and avocados.

Holiday foods that are safe to give pets include carrots, non-salted green beans and apples without seeds and cores.

As November turns into December, houses are adorned with Christmas lights and other decorations.

The folks at Buckhannon Animal Clinic advise that decorations can sometimes be dangerous to the furry critters running about.

“Pets that ingest tinsel or ornaments can have vomiting, inappetence or a GI obstruction that leads to surgery,” according to the clinic staff. “Holly, mistletoe and poinsettias should be kept out of reach since they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence and drooling. Lilies can be very dangerous for cats if they are ingested and can cause kidney failure.”

And like people, pets can get stressed during large gatherings of people. If your pet is trying to escape, McGee and Lambert suggest placing the animal in a quiet room away from company to try and keep them calm.

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