Christmas is a busy time of year, when everyone is rushing around to buy presents, prepare meals and make plans with family and friends. The family pet can be forgotten during this hectic time, and that’s just not fair to Fluffy or Rover.

Christmas is a busy time of year, when everyone is rushing around to buy presents, prepare meals and make plans with family and friends. The family pet can be forgotten during this hectic time, and that’s just not fair to Fluffy or Rover.

Your pet should still get the attention it needs no matter how busy you are with Christmas plans. Some pets, especially dogs, enjoy being with the family when presents are unwrapped. Our big Lab loves to stick her nose into everything. Cats might hide or play in discarded wrapping paper or boxes. However, you have to be careful of smaller objects that your cats or dogs might pick up that could become lodged in their throat. You don’t want your most vivid Christmas memory to be the time you had to perform a Heimlich maneuver on Rover because he thought a Lego was a piece of candy.

Christmas trees can bring out the curiosity in your dog or cat. My cousin tells of one time when their cat was actually in their tree. Getting the cat out was quite a chore and some damage was done to the tree when it was all over. We found out that a tree needs to be secured. Our dog Shadow knocked our tree over this year right after Mom finished decorating it. Afterward I put weights on the stand and stood some of our Christmas dolls around the tree to keep her away from it.

One has to wonder what animals think of us humans bringing a tree inside and decorating it. I recently saw a cartoon showing people bringing in a Christmas tree and the dog told the cat, “See, I get my own indoor bathroom too.”

Food is plentiful this time of year and our pets want a taste of those great smelling dishes. We really need to watch our animals to be sure they don’t get into something that could hurt them. Chocolate, avocados, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins are a few toxic foods that can make animals very ill or even kill them. Xylitol is an ingredient in sugarless gum and other artificially sweetened products that causes an insulin release in pets that is so dangerous it can lead to liver failure. On the other hand, green beans and pumpkin are great treats for pets as long as they aren’t too spicy.

Flowers can be given as holiday gifts and pets might be attracted to these plants. Poinsettia, Amaryllis, Holly, Cyclamen, Peace Lilly, Narcissus and Mistletoe are a few of the toxic plants that should be kept away from pets. More information on this subject can be found at www.aspca.mobi/pet_care/toxic_plants.

To be safe, you might want to keep the following number handy, 888-426-4435. This is the number for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. It is always good to have this number and your veterinarian’s phone number handy in case of an emergency.

This is a wonderful time of year that should be enjoyed with family, friends and pets. Please be careful to watch your pets, just as you watch your children, and have a safe, memorable Christmas.