Tis the season for family, food and festivities. It’s also when furry family members can be injured by frolicking in the proverbial forbidden fruit.

To make things merrier, Croton Animal Hospital offers some guidelines of good will to help protect your pets from holiday hazards.

TIP #1: FOOD FOR THOUGHT Visions of sugarplums may dance in their heads, but be sure to hide the chocolate. Two of its active ingredients— caffeine and theobromine— are potentially deadly toxins. Even small portions of cooked turkey and ham are too rich, causing distress to their digestive systems.

TIP #2: DANGEROUS DECORATIONS Some holiday plants, including mistletoe, poinsettia and holly, are as poisonous as they are pretty. Instead of metal ornament hooks, use small lengths of ribbon, lightweight twine or yarn. Bows on presents look good enough to eat—but aren’t. Ingesting tinsel could cause choking or intestinal blockage. Needles—live or artificial— are indigestible.

TIP #3: RING IT IN–SOFTLY! New Year’s celebrations present additional challenges: noisemakers and noisy company can frighten any pet, causing panic and defensive behavior.

TIP #4: EXERCISE CAUTION In many areas, winter brings bitter cold and numbing wetness. Salt and other chemicals used to melt ice can irritate your pet’s feet. Wipe the pads with a damp towel before your pet licks them.

TIP #5: SAFETY THAT’S AUTO-MATIC Warm car engines attract cats and small wildlife that may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring hidden animals, bang on the hood before starting your engine. Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family. Being alert and recognizing potential disasters before they become real ones will ensure the happiest of holiday seasons for you and your ENTIRE family.

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