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The Twelve Pets of Christmas

Do these festive pets live in your home?

1. The Adventurer


the adventurerThe shiny lights, the glittering tinsel and the tempting tree just begging to be climbed are all too much to resist for this bold explorer. You can make her Christmas safe by using non-breakable ornaments made of wood or plastic, without small pieces that can be easily chewed. Find alternatives to tinsel, like sparkly garlands, thick shiny ribbons or silver icicles to give your tree some bling. Strands of tinsel pose a real risk for blocking or cutting your pet's intestines if eaten. Make sure you anchor your tree to the walls, ceiling or cross-beam so it won't fall over if (or when) it does get climbed. Also, cover up that tree water with a tree-skirt so it is not mistaken for a water bowl.

2. The Road Warrior

the road warriorThis adrenaline junkie is out in all weather; jogging, fetching, racing sleds and hitting the slopes. He doesn't care if it's -40 in a blizzard and he can't feel his toes anymore... he just wants to play! Your extreme athlete can be at risk for paw injuries on sharp ice and snow and they can also be burned from road salt. Check his paws every day and wash them if they are exposed to salt. There are pet-friendly road salt alternatives available for you to use at home on your own driveway. If your dog's paws are continually getting injured then consider having them wear booties... just like the professional sled dogs wear! Also, dogs with very short hair don't have any protection from the elements. He might benefit from a warm jacket to keep him in the game.

3. The Chow-Hound

the chow houndThis gourmand loves everything about Christmas time; the delicious smells, hours spent "helping" you in the kitchen and the dropped crumbs he'll gladly taste-test. This foodie would like nothing better than to join you at the table for roast beef, gravy and two helpings of dessert. Heck, he might even just have to climb up on the counter and help himself. Unfortunately, for him, rich, fatty foods are terrible for pets and can wreak havoc on their digestive systems, leading to things like pancreatitis that can have long term impacts on their health. But, just because he can't have your food doesn't mean he can't join in the fun. Stuff a Kong with a little bit of natural peanut butter or canned dog food... for him, it's just like unwrapping a delicious present! See if he'll enjoy carrot, celery or cucumber slices... many dogs love them! If you are going to cook him some meat make sure it's lean without any added fats or seasonings.

4. The Giver

the giverThis sweet, snuggle-monster can't get enough hugs and pets and she's always trying to make friends with everyone she meets. Nothing makes her happier than giving to others so, to make her holiday wish come true you could donate or volunteer for a variety of worthy causes. Drop off some much needed human and pet food at your local Salvation Army, food bank or homeless shelter. Volunteer to walk dogs or play with the cats at the SPCA or your local rescue. Hand out blankets and pet food to homeless pets and their people. Volunteer at your local soup-kitchen, therapeutic riding center, wildlife or farm animal rescue; anything good to make a positive difference in the lives of others!

5. The Urban Gardener

the urban gardenerThis earthy-pawed kitty enjoys the simple things in life; sleeping in the sun, the smell of a freshly dug potted plant and the taste of well-chewed foliage. Her green-thumb, er, paw, means that every new Christmas plant entering the house is a source of excitement and opportunity. Keep her days merry by substituting toxic plants like lilies, mistletoe, holly and poinsettia with festive artificial arrangements. Or limit your live holiday plants to cedar and pine boughs. Make sure you sweep up fallen pine needles twice a day to keep them from getting eaten.

6. The Traveler

the travelerGone from home for hours at a time this lone wanderer has a spirit that cannot be contained. During the holidays, his familiar territory is transformed into a Christmas wonderland. It might be beautiful but it can also be confusing and a little scary for your furry friend. Guests coming and going can also make him more likely to stay out late until everything is quiet. Try to make sure they stay inside at night and provide a warm, sheltered spot on the porch for him to hide in. To ensure your urban lion always finds his way home, make sure he has an identification tattoo or microchip already in place. He can also be fitted with a quick-release collar containing his contact information. Always make lots of noise before you start your car on cold mornings. A scared, lost cat might crawl up inside your car for warmth and security.

7. The Socialite

the socialiteThis high-energy social butterfly is always the life of the party. Greeting guests with enthusiastic face- washing, stealing appetizers, climbing, knocking things of the coffee table and galloping through the house at full tilt are all just part of the fun! This vibrant soul needs to be part of the action and feels terribly lonely when shut away from the family. You can help curb your extrovert’s excitement levels by remembering the adage that "a tired pet is a good pet." Before guests arrive, go for a good walk or have a long play session. At least 30 minutes of playing should take the edge off his energy levels and help him keep his cool.

8. The Nurturer

the nurturterThis loving pet wants nothing more than a little furry brother or sister to share their toys with. But bringing home a new pet right at Christmas is not a good idea. Adopted pets need calm and quiet to adjust to a new home and the busy hustle and bustle of the holiday season is not the right time to get them settled in. Instead of giving a pet as a present, consider giving a starter kit with a collar, toys and food and a promise note setting up a date to pick out the new pet after Christmas. This will also allow the lucky recipient to choose their pet themselves.

9. The Sweet Tooth

the sweet toothThis sugar-hound can sniff out a tightly wrapped box of chocolates a mile away and chew the bottom out of a candy-laden stocking in two seconds flat. If this guy lives in your home you’d do well to keep all edible presents (and edible tree decorations) high out of reach. Chocolate and candy can be toxic to dogs and the alternate sweetener, xylitol, is even worse. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause seizures, liver failure or even death in dogs. Make your sugarplum their own stocking full of dog safe cookies and treats. That way she has something to open with the family on Christmas morning.

10. The Electrician

the electricianChristmas decorations often means lots of extra cords, lights and other electronic devices, all of which are very tempting to some pets. Chewing on cords can lead to nasty electrical burns and even death. Tape exposed wire to the walls and floor to keep them from moving and unplug the tree overnight. Tuck the tree lights and cords deep within the branches out of reach – make sure there are no dangling electrical wires within reach.

11. The Investigator

the investigatorThis furry dynamo is always exploring and poking their nose and paws into unsafe places. While you probably have already pet-proofed your home, consider your garage and vehicle as well. Antifreeze is lethal to pets; all it takes is a teaspoon to kill a cat and a tablespoonful will kill a 10-pound dog. Unfortunately pets are attracted to the sweet taste. Luckily, there is a less toxic alternative to the ethylene glycol-based antifreeze that is most commonly used so make sure to look for pet-friendly alternatives when winterizing your own vehicles.

12. The Worrier

the worrierStrange noises, strange people and a house transformed into a confusing winter wonderland sets the worrier’s teeth anxiously chattering before the Christmas season is even in full swing. The worrier doesn’t like parties, out of town guests or the cries of excited children. And they certainly don’t enjoy when you’re out of the home for long hours at a time without them. To help your nervous Nellie survive the holiday season make sure they have a quiet room to retreat to whenever they start to get overwhelmed. Set up their bed and a Kong stuffed with healthy treats so they can quietly decompress when things get too hectic. Try to keep to their usual routine; even though you’re busy, make sure they’re getting fed at roughly the same time and take time to play or go for walks every day. Consider using a relaxing spray like Adaptil which scents the air with calming pheromones that only your dog can smell or use a natural calming supplement like Zylkene which can help pets relax in stressful situations.

Tags: Toxins,, Weather,, Holidays,, Behavior,