Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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Dec. 8, 2004

Protect Your Pets During the Holidays

With the holidays approaching, the Oswego County Local Human Needs Committee is encouraging pet owners to think about safety for their pets. The committee includes representatives of several local human services agencies who meet monthly to plan for the needs of the community during a disaster.

Patrice Tyrrell and Jeanne King chair the Animals in Disaster Subcommittee. Their group works on emergency planning needs for animals. They noted that the decorations, food, and parties of the holiday season could create hazards to pets.

"The very things we love about the holidays can be very dangerous to our four-footed friends," said Tyrrell.

The subcommittee offers these tips for keeping pets safe during the holidays.


  • Holiday plants are beautiful and it's always fun to get caught under the mistletoe, but ivies, poinsettias and mistletoe are toxic to animals.
  • If you have a live tree for Christmas, don't add anything to the tree water. Pets like to drink out of the tree stand. Chemical preservatives can be toxic to pets.
  • When decorating your tree, be sure to put glass and other breakable ornaments near the top of the tree where they are less likely to be knocked off and broken.
  • Avoid using tinsel when decorating your tree. Pets love to eat the shiny strands, but it causes choking hazards and can also cause blockages in the intestines.
  • Keep your tree well secured as pets, especially climbing cats, can knock them over.

Holiday foods:

  • Chocolate is often a holiday treat, but it contains theobromine (closely related to caffeine), which can be toxic to animals.
  • Keep turkey and other poultry bones away from pets. The bones splinter and can cause choking hazards. The splinters can also lodge in the mouth or neck, causing pain as well as possible infections or digestive problems.
  • Over-eating is as bad for our pets as it is for the rest of us. Try to keep to your pet's normal feeding schedule and keep table scraps to a minimum. "People food" is too rich for animals and can cause digestive problems. Over-eating can also lead to obesity and other health problems.

The Local Human Needs Committee meets at the Oswego County Emergency Management Office. More information is available by calling the Emergency Management Office at 591-9150.

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