During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, there is one member of the family it’s important not to forget: the four-legged one.
Special considerations need to be taken to make sure your beloved pet is safe, happy and comfortable during the holidays. This includes everything from avoiding certain decorations and seasonal plants to making sure there’s something with Fido’s name on it under the Christmas tree.
First, the serious stuff
Dr. René Lefranc, veterinarian at 2nd Avenue Animal Hospital, puts a list of holiday reminders for pet owners on his website every year around this time.
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One of the most important things to keep in mind is that pets don’t always react well to new foods in their diet.
“As far as foods, what we really need to watch is chocolate, which is really common around the holiday,” said Lefranc. “Leftovers and things like bones -- bones splinter so you never want to give pets bones. The skin from the poultry is really high in cholesterol and fat and that can cause intestinal problems. Onions are very toxic to animals as well.”
Decorations can also pose a health hazard to the curious pet. Plants such as poinsettias, holly and lilies are toxic to animals if ingested. Cats are also known to play with ornaments dangling from a Christmas tree; if the hook on the ornament gets caught in their paw or mouth, it could be very harmful, said Lefranc.
The by-products from decorations can also be a possible danger zone for your pet: “Nowadays we have cables and wires everywhere for the Christmas trees and things like that and we certainly don’t want to leave the dog unattended to where they get electrocuted if they chew on the wires,” Lefranc said. Wires can be taped down or covered by furniture to keep pets from tampering with them.
Although you may want to show off your pet during holiday parties, if he or she isn’t used to large groups of people or loud noises, he or she might not react well. Dr. Lefranc recommends reserving a quite space for your animal where it can calm down. He added that if your dog is going to be kept outside, be mindful of the temperature, provide a shelter from the elements and make sure he or she has plenty of water.
Conversely, if you are leaving town for the holidays and need to board your pet, make sure you maintain your pets regular diet and include items that remind him of home.
“Regardless of the place where you go boarding, I strongly suggest to take their own dog’s diet or their food,” said Lefranc. “Try to take their favorite toys or blankets, and maybe something that has the owner’s smell or scent.”
Now for the fun
For many people, their pets are their children. And what do children get for Christmas? Presents!
So why wouldn’t your favorite furry friend get some, too? There are several local pet boutiques that offer everything from customized clothing to luxury spa gift sets.
Here are some highlights:
Dramatic Paws Pet Boutique and Grooming, 1803 Garrard St., just got in more Fou Fou collars and “bling,” said owner Tonya Smith. The store also has Topiclean spa luxury gift sets (containing shampoo, cologne, blueberry facial scrub and a loofah) and Lazy Dog Cookie Company’s soft baked treats shaped as footballs, owls, pizza slices and hearts.
Classique Petique, 5300 Sydney Simons Blvd., is stocked with pet stockings, custom pet holiday clothing, custom beds and pet carriers, jewelry, cards and locally crafted gift baskets. The store will host a pet Christmas party on Dec. 11 featuring Santa Paws. As far as specials, co-owner Lisa Charlton said the store is permanently offering a 10 percent discount to Columbus professionals and currently offer free gourmet treats with every purchase.
Flea Flickers, 4015 Veterans Parkway, Suite E, has recently added several new services, including dog sitting. The dog sitting service is available to dogs under 30 pounds. “You can come in, use the self-wash and we’ll watch (your dog) while you shop,” said co-owner and operator Andrea Ogle. Additionally, Ogle said the shop has gotten in a lot of Christmas items, including toys, gift baskets and boutique crates. For the entire month of December, guests will receive $5 off a full grooming service.
Besides gifts for pets, another popular notion during the holidays is giving pets as gifts.
While it might seem like a good idea at the time, Dr. Lefranc encourages the recipients (or their parents) be involved in the process.
“I think we need to take into consideration who we’re giving it to and their needs,” said Lefranc. “A lot of times we will think ‘Oh so-and-so needs a puppy,’ but right at the time they don’t need it. Maybe it’s not the right puppy for that person. Just because it’s a present doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for that person. As a gift, I don’t mind it as long as the person is involved in the process of buying ... then (the animal) and the owner match.”
Where to find gifts for your pet
Dramatic Paws Pet Boutique and Grooming, 1803 Garrard St., St. Elmo Plaza at Lakebottom, 706-494-2900.
Services: Grooming, bath & nail services, high-quality foods including EVO, treats, accessories.
Hours: Grooming appointments: 7:30-11 a.m. Monday-Saturday, pick up by 5 p.m.; store hours: 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-5 p.m. Saturday; closed Dec. 24-25
Flea Flickers self service dog wash and grooming salon, 4015 Veterans Court, Suite E, North Veterans Parkway next to the Mercedes-Benz of Columbus, 706-221-3001.
Services: Professional grooming, self service dog wash (“we provide everything but the dog”), high-quality dog food including Natural Balance and Holistic Select, treat, toys, day sitting, training.
Hours: 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday
Classique Petique, 5300 Sydney Simons Blvd., 706-507-2622.
Services: Grooming, custom accessories, photography, “yappy hour” pet parties, training, grooming clinics, veterinarian clinics.
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 24, closed Dec. 25
Katie McCarthy, reporter, can be reached at 706-571-8515