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It is officially the “most wonderful time of the year!” That’s right, the winter holidays are upon us, bringing food, family and festivities, but they also bring hidden dangers for our pets. Take a look at the list below to avoid a costly trip to the emergency room this month.
The holidays are high season for indulging in a cocktail or two. Alcohol is toxic to pets, and because of their smaller size, petite pets are at a particularly high risk for alcohol poisoning. Unattended beverages may be seen as an open bar for pets who just can’t resist the temptation, so be sure to keep all alcohol well out of reach of our curious four-legged friends. Signs of alcohol poisoning include stupor, staggering, incoordination and vomiting.
When decking the halls, keep in mind that some of the traditionally festive foliage may be dangerous to our pets if ingested. I’m sure you’ve heard that poinsettias are deadly – the truth is that they are only mildly irritating to your pet. Nausea and vomiting may occur, but it is highly unlikely that death will follow ingestion. On the other hand, mistletoe and holly are moderately to severely toxic if ingested. I’m sure you won’t need mistletoe to garner kisses from your pets, but if you do choose to hang it, make sure it’s well out of reach of your pets.
Our pets deserve stockings on Christmas morning, too! Keep stocking stuffers on the safe side by avoiding toys with long strings, which could pose a problem to kitties if ingested. Toys that are easily destructible should be avoided for the same reason – tenacious pups may swallow pieces of toys, which can become lodged in their intestines. Choose your pet’s gifts wisely.
The same rules apply for Christmas and Hanukkah dinners as they do for the Thanksgiving feast. Traditionally, we put our diets on hold for the holidays, indulging in rich foods like onion-laden latkes or buttery veggies and meat. Chocolate gold coins are common this time of year, too. All of these treats can cause problems for our pets, leading to gastroenteritis or pancreatitis.
Whether you have a Christmas tree or a menorah, you should be equally aware of the dangers to your pets. Cats are notoriously curious, and many a Christmas tree has been knocked over during their exploration. Ingestion of tree needles may cause vomiting, and ingestion of tree tinsel can lead to linear foreign bodies. And lighted candles – need we say more? Keep candelabras out-of-reach of prying paws, and keep a close eye on pets when you’re celebrating the season.
But the dangers don’t stop there: Christmas lights, train villages and electric menorahs mean extra wires and extension cords. Pay particular attention to keep these out of reach of your pets. I have seen electric cord burns in both cats and curious puppies who chew on wires, and in worst case scenarios, pets can die from respiratory issues secondary to chomping on these wires. Invest in a plastic wire cover to hide these temptations.
Ringing in the New Year
New Year’s Eve brings its own set of problems. In addition to the aforementioned alcohol, noise makers and fireworks may be enough to cause your pet to hightail it to safer ground. Pets who bolt at the sound of fireworks are at risk of becoming lost, so keep pets safely indoors. Give them a safe place where they can retreat during parties or fireworks, and make sure they are microchipped in case the worst occurs.
While the list of cautions is lengthy, just staying smart about your celebrations will help keep the season merry and bright for the whole family.
Call us if you have any questions or email us.
Homeowners Insurance & Social Gatherings
Many homeowners enjoy throwing parties for holidays or special events. If a party is in the near future, be sure that individual homeowners coverage is adequate. Guests who are injured may need to file an injury claim if their vehicle is damaged, if they fall down or if a pet bites them. Research shows that about 75 percent of adult homeowners who plan social gatherings in their homes do not have a personal umbrella policy. This makes them more vulnerable to lawsuits stemming from guests who suffer injuries. The same research study showed that the remainder of the homeowners surveyed did not know what type of coverage they had. This means it is likely that the percentage of homeowners who do not have adequate coverage is more than 75 percent. However, they should have this extra coverage to protect themselves from lawsuits. Although dog bites and falls are common, alcohol is one liability issue that is often overlooked but is very risky.
Alcoholic drinks are viewed as a way to relax and enjoy socializing. However, there is one sobering fact that many homeowners who plan to serve these drinks should know. In 30 states, homeowners may be responsible for damages arising from any auto accidents caused by their intoxicated guests who choose to drive home. In a research survey, more than 50 percent of homeowners said they agreed that party hosts should be responsible for their guests’ safety. However, very few took any steps to obtain adequate insurance coverage. The research study concluded that most people avoid purchasing a personal umbrella policy because they are under the impression that their regular homeowners coverage provides adequate protection for such matters. Since many lawsuits include large awards and medical costs, it is easy for one incident to exceed the homeowners liability limits.
Homeowners must take two steps to ensure they are protected. First, it is imperative for them to contact a personal agent to discuss umbrella policy options. It is also important to take the agent’s advice to avoid facing a costly lawsuit. The second step homeowners must take is to read the following suggestions, which are designed to reduce their risk of lawsuits from intoxicated party guests:
-Instead of having the party at a personal residence, reserve space in a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license.
-Ensure that there are filling food options and non-alcoholic beverage choices available.
-To avoid trouble from party-crashing strangers, limit invitations to friends or familiar people.
-For guests who appear drunk, provide transportation or overnight accommodations.
-Avoid serving alcohol to guests who appear intoxicated.
-Plan activities that draw attention away from drinking alcohol.
-If several guests are expected at a home party, consider hiring an off-duty police officer to handle problems and discreetly monitor guests’ alcohol consumption.
-Take away all alcoholic drinks at least one hour before the part is supposed to end.