BOSTON, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ — The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) today released pet care reminders to ensure a safe, happy holiday season for pets:

* Holiday decorations such as tinsel, lights and ornaments can be tempting, but dangerous playthings for pets. Keep pets away from holiday trimmings and poisonous holiday plants such as mistletoe and holly. Also keep animals that like to chew away from light cords. And, remember to secure the Christmas tree to prevent it from falling on playful pets.

* Give pets nutritious snacks. Rich holiday foods — especially
chocolate — can be hazardous for pets. Give pets treats that are specially made for their sensitive stomachs.

* Select safe pet toys. Buy toys that do not have sharp edges or removable parts and can not be shredded or ingested.

* Give pets the best gift of all-your time. Set aside time everyday to play and socialize with your pet. No other gift will mean as much to your pet.

* Pets make wonderful companions, but should not be given as gifts. Give a pet adoption gift certificate to the prospective pet owner on your list. This will allow the person to choose the right type of pet at the time when he or she is ready to make the commitment.

* Think of less fortunate animals this holiday. By spaying and
neutering pets, volunteering at a humane society, donating blankets and pet toys to a shelter, or reporting cruelty to any animal, people will be helping the less fortunate animals this holiday season.

* Make travel plans with pets ahead of time. Find accommodations that allow pets by contacting your destination city’s division of tourism. If travelling by car, provide frequent rest and water stops for your pet.

* Always have current identification on your pet with an alternate phone number when you are away. If your pet is staying home, contact a reputable pet sitter or find a kennel that meets all necessary requirements for a quality establishment, such as a sanitary and safe environment and a qualified, caring staff.

* If there is no alternative to air travel, take precautions for your pet’s safety. If possible, take your small pet with you on the plane in a carrier that fits under your seat. If your pet must travel in the cargo hold, select a carrier with proper ventilation on at least three sides and room to allow the animal to stand and turn around. Put a blanket in the carrier for warmth. Avoid using a muzzle during the flight. Have your pet examined by its’ veterinarian before the flight and get a direct flight during temperatures that are neither too cold or hot. Note: Short-faced breeds of dogs such as Pugs, Pekingese or Boxers and animals with heart or lung disease should use an alternate mode of transportation. Dogs with these characteristics have difficulty handling the rapid breathing associated with travel-induced stress.


*During frigid weather, all pets should be taken inside. Older, very young, or ill pets, pets not acclimated to the cold, and certain shorthaired breeds of dogs are especially sensitive to the cold. Trips outside should be kept brief to prevent frostbite.

*For animals who are active outdoors, extra nutritional calories in their diet will give them added energy needed in colder weather.

*If dogs spend any length of time outdoors, they should be provided with proper shelter which is dry and secure from the wind and weather. Fresh hay or cedar shavings provide dry bedding materials. The shelter should have a floor elevated from the ground.

*Shovel walking paths for pets. The deep snow makes it difficult for older and smaller pets to walk and can aggravate conditions such as arthritis in older pets.

*Keep pets away from antifreeze, which can be deadly if ingested. Clean up spills immediately, store chemicals securely away from pets, and look for products containing propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol.

*Thoroughly wipe off pets’ foot pads and stomach fur when they come in from the outdoors. Ice, rock salt and sand can be extremely irritating to animals’ skin. These and other snow-melting chemicals can be harmful to pets if swallowed while licking their pads and fur.

*Always leash and supervise pets when outside. Warmer temperatures this winter can spell trouble for pets wandering onto half-frozen lakes and ponds. When driving, watch for unleashed pets behind snowbanks. The mounds of snow make it difficult to see animals running in the street.

*Make sure your pet has a warm, draft-free place to sleep, such as a dog or cat bed or basket. Caged pets, such as birds, hamsters, and guinea pigs are especially sensitive to cold drafts. Keep cages in a warm, dry area of the house.

*Protect cats by keeping them indoors. Free-roaming cats may curl up in wheel wells or under the warm hoods of cars. Before starting the engine, bang on the hood or press the car’s horn to alert any sleeping animals.

For more pet care information, contact the MSPCA at (617) 522-7400 or visit the website at

CONTACT: Barbara Castleman, 617-541-5066, or Melissa Bassett, 617-541-5068, both of MSPCA Public Affairs/Web site:



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