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Safe Living in Sonoma

Happy holidays for your animals, too

By Julie Atwood

The holiday season is here, and we are finally able to share good times again with family and friends.

For many, holiday socializing includes our animals. To keep everyone happy and healthy, we’ve compiled a refresher list (and some new tips) to help you plan ahead for safe outings and celebrations.

Take a few minutes to read these holiday animal safety tips, reminders, and resources. Share it with others (see the link for a PDF to print or send this column in the “Resources” box). And send us holiday photos of your animals for the Kenwood Press!

Holiday Hazards — Pet Safety & Stressors

Many of our pets have been isolated with us for more than a year. It’s important to keep this in mind if you will have visitors or plan to take pets to gatherings in other homes. Here are a few key “awareness” items to remember.

Keep a close watch on pets when bringing people (especially children) into their environment. They may not be as happy to welcome visitors as you! Reintroduce pets to each other, and people, slowly and mindfully —don’t assume they will interact the same way they did before the long COVID quarantine.

Also give pets a quiet, private, and secure place to chill, away from all the activity, and make sure everyone washes their hands before and after petting and playing with pets. Healthier for everyone!

Safe Travels

Before you travel be sure to update vaccinations and make sure pets are microchipped. Keep collars with ID tags on your pets, and make sure they are traveling in the most secure way possible (carriers, harnesses, petseat harnesses).

If you plan to leave your pets behind when you travel, take time to review safety items with home and animal sitters.

When Fun Turns into Fright — Holiday Animal Hazards

There are lengthy lists of common foods and ingredients that are dangerous and sometimes lethal to pets (see the “Resources” box). Watchfulness is key to keeping the holidays happy for all. Here are a few items that fall into “Danger to Pets” categories.

Avoid feeding your pets fatty foods (don’t give pets table scraps). Keep an eye on your guests; remind them not to “treat” the dogs and cats. Sweets, chocolate, caffeine, many flavorings, and alcoholic beverages are dangerous for pets to consume (cats may want to dive into eggnog but don’t let them).

Also keep in mind that toys and decorations, tinsel, ribbon, sparkly lights, plastic objects, glass ornaments, and holiday plants, such as poinsettias and conifer needles, are hazardous for pets.

Outdoors with Animals

Planning to go for winter walks with dogs or trail riding with your equine?

The wonderful early rains have been a blessing but have created some hazards to watch out for in the great outdoors, such as mushrooms, algae, fallen and leaning trees, tangled trailside branches, slick trails, hidden mudholes, quicksand, beach hazards, sneaker waves, and high surf and wind. Knowing what to do in an animal emergency, who to call for help, and how to assess and stabilize your pet or equine, can be lifesavers.

As discussed previously in this column, the North Bay is now blessed with several local fire departments, search-and-rescue volunteers, and veterinarians with large animal rescue skills and equipment. See the “Resources” box for links to a PDF “How-To” card for large animal rescue.

Giving Back

Thank you to the Kenwood Press for providing this space every month to support community safety, readiness, and wellness. In gratitude, we will publish our HALTER Project Giving Guide in the last two issues of the year. It’s filled with organizations always ready to help us, and that rely on community support to sustain their work.

Share the holidays with your furry, finny, scaly, feathery companions. They bring great gifts to us, and in return, we try to do all we can to keep them safe, healthy, and with us for as long as possible.

This is our holiday wish for you, our Kenwood Press community in the beautiful Valley of the Moon.