Photo credit: Summer Huggins
Your pets are part of the family. Keep them safe and healthy this holiday season by keeping a few tips in mind.
There’s so much going on this month as we prepare to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year. Your pets are noticing the changes in the house and in their daily routine. An odd tree is going up in the living room, new smells are coming from the kitchen, and you’re coming home later in the evenings after work, after running just one more errand.
With so much going on right now, it’s important to remind ourselves about the potential dangers for our pets that come into the house with that tree.
- Chocolate, onions and raisins. We all know these foods are dangerous (even deadly) to our pets, and it seems like there are more of them around the holiday table. Remember to keep such foods out of their reach, and don’t let your guests give in to those puppy-dog eyes begging at the table. Check out this full list of foods that can be dangerous to pets.
- Ornaments and ornament hooks. Have you ever dropped one of those decoration hooks in the carpet? They’re almost impossible to find and fish out, yet one of my cats can make quick work of running off with one. Instead of those metal hooks, this year I’m using festive red ribbon on all of my tree ornaments.
- Festive plants. We’ve all heard that poinsettias are poisonous to pets, but a quick search on the Internet will have you questioning that common wisdom. Some say yes; some say no. I say: Take caution with any new plants in the house. At the very least, ingesting a new, strange plant can cause an upset tummy in pets. How much extra time do you have to scrub the carpets right now?!
- The front door. Packages are being delivered, visitors are coming and going. Make sure your pets stay put and stay safe.
I wish you and your pets a happy and healthy holiday season and a merry Christmas! I hope they get everything they’re wishing for. Oh, and you, too!
Bark magazine's November-December 2011 issue
It seems to be written on every child’s wish list–a puppy for Christmas. Bark magazine encourages you to consider a few factors before buying.
Imagine the joy on the face of a child when he or she discovers a puppy under the Christmas tree. It’s hard to resist bringing that kind of happiness to someone. But if a puppy is on your holiday gift list, Bark magazine asks you to think again and consider the following.
- You might pick the wrong breed. You may love German shepherds, but maybe your recipient has her heart set on a pug. Even if you want to give the gift of a puppy to your own child, research breeds and select the addition to your family together. It will be a great family bonding experience from start to finish.
- You’re giving a major time commitment. Things get busy around the holidays; schedules become hectic. Puppies have specific, round-the-clock needs that can be overlooked this time of year. You want to set the puppy up for long-term success and happiness, not let them get lost in the shuffle of the season.
- You should try before you buy. Bark magazine suggests this, and I couldn’t agree more: Foster first! Fostering is temporary care of a dog or puppy who really needs the home experience or a break from the shelter while waiting to be adopted. Fostering is also an opportunity for you to see how a puppy does with your family’s routines and lifestyle. Fostering makes you an important part of a puppy’s life.
- You need to be patient and prepared. Instead of putting a puppy under the Christmas tree, why not make a gift out of a dog bowl, leash, cute collar and training book. A better time to look for a puppy might be after the chaos of the holidays has subsided, and your home will be stocked and ready to go.
One last bit of encouragement if you decide to give a puppy as a gift this year: Avoid pet stores where puppies may have come from a puppy mill. Adopt instead from a local rescue group, and consider adopting an older dog. You’ll be offering great support to a rescue group in your community, and the dog you adopt will love you for it.
Photos with the big guy are a holiday ritual for most families. Use these tips to get the best shot when your kids visit Santa.
Santa is an interesting character at our house. My preschoolers want to like him–after all, he brings cool gifts, doesn’t he? But the idea of a strange man shimmying down the chimney into their house while they’re asleep at night is worrisome. Last year, my oldest wanted to leave Santa a note on our front door asking him to leave the gifts on the porch rather than under the tree so that he wouldn’t come inside.
With my youngsters having all these reservations, you can see why photo ops with jolly old St. Nick are difficult. It took three separate trips to the mall last year before they worked up the courage to sit on his lap, and even then they weren’t quite sure.
I’m sort of on the fence about Santa myself. He’s certainly a magical part of my childhood memories, but as a parent, I don’t like using him as a disciplinary tool. Regardless of my feelings, I still feel obligated to participate in the ritual of snapping a pic of my precious peeps visiting him each Christmas.
There was a great article in the the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Parenting Early Years magazine about taking your child to meet the big guy for the first time. Try some of their tips (along with ones I’ve picked up from friends with older kids) to snap a memorable pic of your kids this year.
- Don’t paint a scary picture of Santa Claus. Standing in line to meet him last year, my then 2-year-old asked me countless times if Santa was “nice.” The article warns not to paint a scary picture of St. Nick by saying things to your kids like, “Don’t be afraid, Santa won’t hurt you.” “You’ve just introduced a possibility that may never have occurred to him,” says Jonathan Pochyly, Ph.D., of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Instead, talk about how fun it will be to visit Santa and show your child pictures of older kids they know sitting with him.
- Use the wait to your advantage. If there’s a line to see Santa, consider standing in it rather than wandering the mall until the crowd shrinks. If your child can watch other kids sitting with Santa, it may help her get over her own anxiety.
- Say cheese yourself. Instead of handing your kids off to the “elves” working the camera, walk with your kids to meet Santa. And even be prepared to smile for the camera yourself. Younger one might feel a little safer with Mom or Dad nearby.
- Take a lovey. If your child has a special blanket or stuffed animal, bring it along for the big visit. You’ll cherish the photo years later even more if your little guy is clinging to his brown bear.
- Give up. If your kid is the one arching his back and screaming to avoid sitting with Santa, who cares? Don’t force your child into a situation that is overly scary for him. Assure him that Santa will still come on Christmas Eve–and then drop it. It will be a funny story to tell later on.