Metro Weekly

7 Christmas Cautions for Dogs and Cats

Take these steps to ensure a happy holiday season for you and your pet

Photo by Tony Campbell

Photo by Tony Campbell

You may be the type who tries to maximize the holiday, squeezing out as many ways — and as many days — to celebrate Christmas or Chanukah as possible. And there’s nothing wrong with that — as long as you realize many others are not nearly as festively inclined, including your dog or cat. So don’t force the season’s greetings on them.

In fact, to put things into pet perspective: Every day with you is essentially a holiday for your pet — and any day that strays too far from a routine puts them on edge. The more you can make the holiday season feel like any other to him, the better off he and you will be.

Here are seven specific things to think about or avoid to ensure a happy holiday season for you and your pet. Above all, practice common sense and keep a watchful eye. “Diligence and prevention are our best tools to keep our pets from getting sick,” according to Janine Calabro, chief of emergency and critical care at D.C.’s Friendship Hospital for Animals.

1. Toxic Holiday Food — “There are certain types of toxicity that we see a little bit more frequently during the holidays,” Dr. Calabro says. Most revolve around foods that are dangerous to cats and dogs — from chocolate to onions to the raisins in fruitcake. Among other human holiday food items, be sure to keep dogs and cats away from fatty foods such as turkey skin — which can cause pancreatitis — and cooked bones, which can get caught in or tear up the intestinal lining.

2. Toxic Tinsel and Ornaments — But it’s not just human food that’s toxic. Make sure you secure any and all Christmas tree ornaments and keep a watchful eye on any that fall or break. And particularly, if you have a cat, you should forego tree tinsel altogether. It might be cute to watch Fluffy bat at it or carry a loose strand in his mouth as his shiny new “toy.” But it’s all fun and games until he digests it. “Especially the long thin strands of it can get stuck in their gastrointestinal tracts,” Dr. Calabro says. You’ll go from shiny tinsel to vomiting or worse, ruining the festive feeling.

3. Tree Dangers — “With regard to the live tree,” Dr. Calabro says, “more of the issue has to do with the water they’re sitting in” — from added fertilizer to the bacteria that builds up even in pure water after a couple weeks. Make sure your dog or cat can’t lap at it, and that it — and your whole tree, for that matter — is securely anchored. And maybe put up a gate or in some other way make it hard to access the tree and all the new electric cords you’ve added. “It’s quite common to see particularly puppies biting the electric cords attached to the lights, which can lead to electrocution and pretty significant consequences.”

4. The Holly and The Lily — “Most Christmas-associated plants, like holly and mistletoe and poinsettias, cause more gastrointestinal upsets than anything else,” Dr. Calabro says, “as long as they’re not ingested in very large quantities. [But all kinds of] lilies can be fatal if cats ingest them, even just getting some of the pollen if they’re playing with the flowers or chewing on the leaves.” So better to just say no to lilies.

5. Toysmart — When gifting for your dog, it’s best to stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, or at least those designed to be digested. And for your cat, pick out a stuffed catnip toy or a new ball that’s too big to swallow.

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6. Restricted Travel — There may be fewer injuries involving cars striking or running over animals during the wintertime because there are fewer pets on the road — but there are still too many car-related pet accidents this time of year, when more pets travel by car and yet not enough pet owners put them in a crate or seat belt harness. The American Automobile Association estimates that between 20 and 30 percent of car accidents are caused by dogs being loose in a car. Don’t be that guy.

7. Create a Safe Space — If you throw a big party or host out-of-town guests for the holidays, consider cordoning off a quiet, comfortable room — even just a bathroom — to which your dog can retreat complete with a few toys, treats and blanket to make him feel less anxious or destructive.

Friendship Hospital for Animals is at 4105 Brandywine St. NW. Call 202-363-7300 or visit friendshiphospital.com.

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Ghosts of Georgetown Walking Tour -- A Haunted Trek Through DC

at The Old Stone House, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, November 23
Sat, November 25
Sun, November 26
+ 28 more dates
Thu, November 23
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Sun, November 26
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FULL PRICE: $20
OFFER PRICE: $10

DC By Foot presents a walking tour featuring the Ghosts of Georgetown. Among the historic streets, manicured gardens and Victorian row houses of one of Washington, D.C.'s finest neighborhoods lie deep... [more+]

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Thanksgiving Lunch Feast Aboard Nina's Dandy

at Nina's Dandy, Alexandria
OFFER DATES:
Thu, November 23
FULL PRICE: $55
OFFER PRICE: $42

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Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Show: Hear the Hits in Fun, Interactive Show

at Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Bar, National Harbor
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
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OFFER PRICE: $8.50

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at Sidney Harman Hall, Washington
OFFER DATES:
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FULL PRICE: $86
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Paul Morella Puts a Solo Spin on a Holiday Classic

at Olney Theatre Center - Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, Olney
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
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Haunted Georgetown Walking Tour Unearths the Neighborhood's Scary Stories

at Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
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+ 4 more dates
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An Obsession Scares Up Vampires in "St. Nicholas"

at Writer's Center, Bethesda
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Tue, November 28
+ 9 more dates
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Acclaimed One-Man Odyssey Through America

at Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
+ 3 more dates
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Politics & Pints Capitol Hill Walking Tour

at US Capitol Building, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
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Sun, November 26
+ 4 more dates
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International Spy Museum: Enter the World of Secret Agents

at International Spy Museum, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sun, November 26
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"Monuments by Night" Puts D.C. Landmarks on Display

at Smithsonian Metro Station, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sun, November 26
+ 4 more dates
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OFFER PRICE: $33

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Tour the Capital Sites on the Washington D.C. Unveiled Electric Roadster Tour

at L'Enfant Plaza, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
+ 11 more dates
Fri, November 24
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Mon, November 27
Mon, November 27
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Trump Satire "Vicuña & The American Epilogue"

at Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
+ 7 more dates
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
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What will the world look like eight years from now? It's a question a lot of classy people have been asking lately. The Pulitzer Prize finalist who wrote "Other Desert Cities" has an idea, and it make... [more+]

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Comedian Jon Dore ("Canada's Funny as Hell")

at Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse, Arlington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Fri, November 24
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+ 1 more dates
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Named one of "Variety"'s "10 Comics to Watch," Canadian comedian Jon Dore is renowned for his offbeat humor and unique bait-and-switch style. "Conan" viewers got a taste of that signature combo recent... [more+]

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"A Child's Christmas in Wales"

at Undercroft Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
+ 16 more dates
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
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Fri, December 01
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"A Christmas Carol" Twist on the Holiday Favorite

at The Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children's Theater, Hagerstown
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Fri, December 01
+ 7 more dates
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Fri, December 08
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An original adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale of redemption and holiday cheer comes to the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater for the first time. "A Christmas Carol -- A Ghost Story ... [more+]

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Felonious Munk's Journey From Prison to Primetime

at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
+ 5 more dates
Fri, November 24
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Sat, November 25
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It's tough to break into comedy -- and even tougher when you're starting out as an ex-drug dealer fresh off a six-year stint in state prison. Against all odds, in a country where the deck is more ofte... [more+]

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Comedian Zainab Johnson ("Last Comic Standing")

at Drafthouse Comedy Theater, Washington
OFFER DATES:
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Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
+ 1 more dates
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Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
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Smithsonian American Art Adventures

at Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sun, November 26
Mon, November 27
+ 36 more dates
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Sun, November 26
Mon, November 27
Tue, November 28
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Thu, November 30
Fri, December 01
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Sun, December 03
Mon, December 04
Tue, December 05
Wed, December 06
Thu, December 07
Fri, December 08
Sat, December 09
Sun, December 10
Mon, December 11
Tue, December 12
Wed, December 13
Thu, December 14
Fri, December 15
Sat, December 16
Sun, December 17
Mon, December 18
Tue, December 19
Wed, December 20
Thu, December 21
Fri, December 22
Sat, December 23
Tue, December 26
Wed, December 27
Thu, December 28
Fri, December 29
Sat, December 30
Tue, January 02
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Thu, January 04
Fri, January 05
Sat, January 06
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OFFER PRICE: $15

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Obie-Winning Play "Top Girls"

at Keegan Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sun, November 26
+ 2 more dates
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sun, November 26
Thu, November 30
Fri, December 01
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OFFER PRICE: $25

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.