North Okanagan residents are urged to keep an eye on their pets during the Christmas holiday.

North Okanagan residents are urged to keep an eye on their pets during the Christmas holiday.

Holiday warning issued to pet owners

The B.C. SPCA reminds people that the holidays and colder weather can be hazardous for pets.

The B.C. SPCA reminds people that the holidays and colder weather can be hazardous for pets.

“We want everyone to enjoy the holidays, including the furry members of your family,” said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the B.C. SPCA.

Holiday pet safety tips include:

Bones are Bad: Avoid giving bones to your dogs or cats, particularly turkey bones. Poultry bones easily splinter and can cause serious injury, while bone fragments can cause intestinal blockages or lacerations.

Thoughtful Treats: Chocolate and other sweets should not be given to animals. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that can be deadly to cats and dogs, though not harmful to humans. The best thing you can do for your pet over the holidays is to keep them on their regular diet. Look for healthy animal treats instead of giving your animal companions cookies, rich snacks or sweets meant for people.

Poisonous Plants: Many popular holiday plants are poisonous to animals including mistletoe, holly, ornamental pepper and Christmas rose. Remember to keep these plants out of reach of pets – especially birds. Poinsettias are not poisonous to pets or people. This has been a long-standing rumour perpetuated for decades. Some pets may have a sensitivity to the latex contained in the plant and may get diarrhea or vomit.

Tinsel is Trouble: Having a Christmas tree and pets can be troublesome. Ensure the tree is well-secured and try to place the decorations above paw height. Using string to hang decorations instead of hooks helps, as hooks can be easily dislodged. If possible, use non-breakable ornaments. Avoid using tinsel or angel hair – cats and dogs will ingest both, which can cause intestinal problems. Cords for lights should be made inaccessible to pets, especially chewing puppies and exploring kittens.

As the holidays near, the temperature drops below freezing in many parts of the province, making the season not so merry for outdoor animals.

“Cold weather conditions can pose a serious risk to your pet,” said Chortyk.

“Extra caution should be taken to ensure that your pet stays warm, safe and healthy this winter.”