Today is National Kids and Pets Day and was created by celebrity family and pet lifestyle expert, mother and pet lover, Colleen Paige in 2005. According to the webpage, this day is “dedicated to furthering the magical bond between children and animals to help bring awareness to the plight of pets in shelters awaiting new homes and educating the public about safety between children and pets.” The idea of guiding children to treat pets with compassion and teaching them responsible, safe interactions seems like a no-brainer to me yet we’ve all heard horror stories about caregivers leaving small children in particular unsupervised with the family pet.
Sam loves little kids. His gait quickens to check out any stroller along our walks, his tails wags furiously and he’s always patient letting kids pets him in our neighborhood and at the hospital. Being eye level with children, it’s especially my responsibility to make sure his interactions are closely supervised for everyone’s comfort and safety and I’m ever vigilant at watching his body language around them, checking for any signs of distress or unease. Too often adults leave children and pets vulnerable by not staying close by or by not seeing signs of distress in pets by ensuring a chubby well meaning hand doesn’t grab an ear or nose and pull too hard. It’s too easy to view the family dog as a 4-legged TV to ‘watch’ the kiddos. Supervision is necessary for both the child’s safety as well as for the family pet. We all know that children raised with pets tend to be more nurturing and compassionate and make better parents and pet owners once they’ve grown up but it’s our duty to make sure it’s done safely for both kinds of kids.
So celebrate the bonds between kids and pets today but know it’s your obligation to keep your pup or kitty safe around children. Diligence in that regard keeps our 2 and 4 legged kids safe and happy. So what special tips do you use to keep your fur-kid safe around children?
If you’re anything like me, this is the time of year where things get a bit crazy. That’s kind of an understatement…I’m pretty much crazed most of the time, but especially now. Thanksgiving was later than normal so now it’s a mad dash to get everything done in time for Christmas. How is it possible that Christmas is only a couple of weeks away? Wasn’t it Halloween just last week?!
Between the hustle and bustle of get-togethers, shopping, baking, etc., sometimes our fur-kids may be a bit overlooked…that is until things goes wrong. I know I’m overwhelmed these days and can’t begin to imagine how Sam feels tripping over tons of craft supplies, ornament boxes, artificial greenery, wrapping paper and bag of bows. The season is fraught with possible mishaps and dangerous situations as well as wonderful memories to cherish with friends and family.
We all know there are potential dangers during the season. First off…the obstacle course (otherwise known as the spot where the tree is erected). Did anyone else’s house suddenly shrink in size this time of year or is it just mine? Even with a slim profile, that tree seems to be sticking out right in the path of an athletic but clumsy dog. In the past, I’ve had dogs with long tails, the kind that just never stop wagging back. Sam’s tail isn’t quite that long, but long enough so that when he’s excited, I can only pray he’s not remotely near the tree, because stuff will go flying or worse, the whole kitten caboodle could come crashing down (tying a string to the top and attaching it to the ceiling seems like a smart solution). Likewise, all breakable ornaments must be at least 3 1/2 feet off the floor lest he bumps the tree during one of his mad dashes through the living room knocking down the irreplaceable hand blown glass bulbs off onto the hardwood floor into a million pieces. A trip to the vet to remove glass shards from tender paws isn’t exactly the kind of Christmas I want to remember.
Ah, those lovingly wrapped packages. So pretty and so interesting especially to Sam (yeah, erecting deer fencing around the tree would be smart idea-just saying). Shiny packages with bows seem to hold special allure for Sam. That long nose of his continues to get him into trouble. And metallic paper in the digestive system of [wo]man’s best friend can be even more troublesome if you know what I mean.
Then there are all those baked goodies and chocolates set out for casual noshing during the holidays. We all know that chocolate can lead to various medical complications and could be fatal for your dog. This time of year I do want to have yummy chocolate (who am I kidding, I want it ALL year long) but sure as heck don’t want Sam to get sick. Then again, I don’t want to share any of it with Sam’s unsophisticated palate either (even if he could safely eat it). It could make him sick, but he’d also never appreciate the good stuff either. That stuff has to go on top of the frig because it seems like every other surface in my house is host to several Christmas craft projects in various stages of completion or within nose reach of one ‘particular hound’ who shall remain nameless. BTW, where the hell are those Amazon drones when you need them to deliver craft supplies quickly to finish all your projects? Just wondering out loud here. I’m pretty sure his neck grows longer this time of year to snatch goodies off the dining room table. Jeez, that dog is like Gumby with an anteater’s tongue right now.
Then there are those gorgeous plants that makes everything look so festive. Poinsettia, mistletoe and lilies can be deadly. Poinsettias are toxic to both dogs and cats and lilies are extremely poisonous to cats, even a small nibble can cause severe kidney damage. Mistletoe poisoning can result in mild signs of gastrointestinal irritation (e.g., drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain). When ingested in large amounts, abnormal heart rate, collapse, hypotension (low blood pressure), ataxia (walking drunk), seizures and death are possible. Don’t let pets drink tree water either. It could contain fertilizer, and stagnant water could harbor bacteria. Check labels for tree water preservatives and artificial snow, and buy only those that are nontoxic. Using a screen around the trees to block access to electrical cords and/or water in the stand makes good sense. Avoid using aspirin in the water thinking it will keep the tree or plant vigorous. If a pet ingests aspirin-laced water, his health or even life can be at risk. If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, contact a vet immediately or call ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
This is also the time of year when fur-parents buy gifts for their pets. Assess toys carefully; they should be too large to swallow and strong enough so they can’t be chewed up into tiny pieces. Sam can’t have toys, he just rips them up and swallows the eyes of all those adorable stuffed squeaky animals. 🙁 Take care that children’s toys are put away after being played with, you don’t want to step on any little Lego pieces in the dark or have them cause an intestinal blockage for your pet.
It bears repeating, turkey is not your dog’s friend. While not toxic, the skin is quite fatty compared to his normal diet and can cause digestive upset or possible pancreatitis. Turkey bones, are an obvious no-no–they can splinter if eaten and possibly perforate the digestive tract.
With lots of holiday celebrating, bipeds can over-do the whole good-cheer thing. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers should never be given to pets. NSAIDs are poisonous to dogs and cats.
Finally, avoid leaving gum out. Sure it’s great to freshen the breath for those unexpected mistletoe moments but make sure your pet doesn’t get into your stash. Sugar-free gum contains Xylitol which is quite toxic to dogs. The sweet smell and shiny wrapping paper are a potential draw so keep them stashed away from inquisitive noses and whiskers.
Enjoy the season but take special care of your fur-iends. Wishing you and yours a terrific ‘howliday’ and may all your days be furry and bright! <3