Saturday, December 8, 2012


December, the final month of the year and a major holiday month with Hanukkah, the 8-day festival of lights, starting tonight.  With so many days of celebrating and the end of the modern year fast approaching, it is also a time to make sure our home is decorated with the safety of our pets in mind.

Hanukkah decorations can prove tempting to our furry family members. Noses, paws and tails can knock glass and ceramic decorations over breaking them.  It is a good idea to make sure displays containing breakables are on walls or places higher than your canine's eye level. In the case of felines, breakables should be in a place where kitty can't jump to. Breakables not only cause cuts but fragments can be ingested causing internal perforations and requiring surgical removal. String, thin ribbon, metal hooks and wire can cause emergency intestinal issues for both dogs and cats.

A menorah with real candles or oil is a beautiful sight and fascinating to pets. Make sure furry family members are supervised when in the same room; better yet confine them away from the room containing the menorah or any candelabra.

Remember, puppies and kittens love to chew and gnaw on just about everything. The electric cords for decorative lights and menorahs will be too tempting to resist. Besides electric shock to your pet there is the potential of fire. To keep your pet and possessions safe, purchase Grannick's Bitter Apple to spray on the cords. Make sure you spray the cords thoroughly; the smell will keep them from tasting the sprayed item. I've used Grannick's Bitter Apple with the majority of my puppies and I find it works very well. With its sour-apple smell and bitter taste, to me it's the animal equivalent of that stuff you paint on your kids' nails to to prevent biting.

Of course, everyone looks forward to all the food, desserts and treats associated with Hanukkah. Whether you are trying new recipes or making traditional holiday favorites, family and guests should be reminded not to feed the four-legged family members human food. Have some special pet treats available for guests to give to your pet but make sure their intake is monitored. Don't overfeed or feed foods not usually included in their regular diet to your pets. Don't let anyone give them alcohol of any kind, soda, coffee or tea and no chocolate! Grapes, raisins, avocados and onions are poisonous to pets. A quick review of this list compiled by the Humane Society will help you protect your pet from accidental poisoning:

If you will have a large gathering and your pet is not used to such activity or even a small gathering with people not familiar to your pet it might be best to confine your furry family member to a quiet part of the house. This will reduce the possibility of your pet inadvertently getting out of the house as well. It will also prevent unpredictable behavior such as growling, snapping, biting or scratching.

Dressing your pet in a Hanukkah-appropriate Tee-shirt or a prayer shawl and yarmulke might make for a nice holiday photo but don't force a reluctant pet to get dressed up if they don't like to. 

Following these simple suggestions will go a long way to making the 8 days of Hanukkah a happy one for everyone.

German Shepherd Rescue of New England, Inc. website lists various poison control numbers to call in the event of an emergency:

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