TOMS RIVER – While you’re scurrying around to grab those last minute holiday gifts or stringing up the Christmas lights, Ocean County officials remind you to keep your pets and their safety in mind!
“The Ocean County Health Department wants you to consider the potential health hazards that come with decorations, food, road trips, parties or having relatives and friends staying at your home during this festive time of year. Many of these things you may not think twice about until it’s too late,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “Pets really are creatures of habit, so a change of routine or environment can be stressful.”
Officials offer the following tips to keep your furry friends happy and healthy this holiday season:
- Keep people food out of the reach of your pet, and ask your guests to do the same
- Make sure your pet doesn’t have any access to treats, especially those containing chocolate, xylitol, grapes/raisins, onions or other toxic foods
- Don’t leave your pet alone in the room with lit candles, a decorated tree or potpourri
- Keep holiday plants (especially holly, mistletoe and lilies) out of reach of pets
- Consider leaving the tinsel off your tree if you have a cat
- Secure your tree to keep it from falling over if your dog bumps it or your cat climbs it. Hanging lemon-scented car air fresheners in the tree may deter your cat from climbing it.
- Pack for your pet as well as yourself if you’re going to travel together: i.e. food, medications, copies of medical records, information to help identify your pet if it becomes lost, first aid supplies, etc.
- Pets in vehicles should always be safely restrained and should never be left alone in the car in any weather.
- Provide a safe place for your pet to escape the excitement (such as a kennel, crate, perching place, scratching post shelf or hiding place) if you’re entertaining guests.
- Keep an eye on pets when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost.
- Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information.
“Unfortunately we see an increase of pets that are brought to the county animal facilities because an owner loses their cat or dog while travelling or visiting,” said Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator. “That’s why it is so important to microchip your pet. The Ocean County Animal Facilities have reunited hundreds of pets with their owners over the years because of the microchip. Otherwise many of those dogs or cats would never have been found by their owners.”
In any situation, it is important to be prepared. Officials advise that you know how to get to your 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic before there’s an emergency, talk with your vet in advance to find out where you would need to take your pet, and plan your travel route ahead of time.
Always keep these numbers posted in an easy-to-find location in case of emergencies:
- Your veterinarian’s clinic phone number
- 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic (if different)
- ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435
“Don’t let a mishap that you could’ve easily avoided ruin your holiday,” Regenye added. “Pets can sometimes find trouble but it’s our job to keep them from harm’s way.”
For more information about pet health and safety, visit ochd.org.