As a veterinarian, Charles L. Starr III knows the kind of trouble that pets can get into around the holidays. Charles L. Starr III says that even well-meaning, loving pet owners can still make mistakes.
Q: I understand that Halloween can be a real problem for pets.
Charles L. Starr III: Yes, you probably should just leave your pets indoors around Halloween.
Q: And I’ve heard stories about black cats being mistreated.
Charles L. Starr III: Yes. Black cats, in particular, can be the target of abuse around Halloween.
Q: What do you think about Halloween costumes for pets?
Charles L. Starr III: Well, a lot of pets just don’t like them, but even if your dog or cat does enjoy the fun and attention, make sure that he or she can see and hear properly, and that the costume doesn’t impede movement. Give it a little while to get used to the costume before Halloween!
Q: Christmas can be hazardous for pets. What tips do you have for the holiday season?
Charles L. Starr III: Be attentive and watch food around pets.
Q: How so?
Charles L. Starr III: Food that is meant for humans is really bad for pets! Don’t give them table scraps, and ask your guests to abide by that same rule.
Q: Some “people foods” are toxic, right?
Charles L. Starr III: Absolutely. Things like chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions and xylitol are strictly off-limits for pets.
Q: Are Christmas decorations dangerous to my pets?
Charles L. Starr III: Well, cats love to eat tinsel. You might want to just leave tinsel off the tree altogether.
Q: On the subject of the tree, my cats love to climb the Christmas tree!
Charles L. Starr III: Yes, it’s hard to stop a cat from climbing, but you should have the tree secured so it can’t tip over!
Q: Aren’t certain plants toxic as well?
Charles L. Starr III: Yes, lilies, holly and mistletoe are all seasonal Christmas plants but are very toxic to cats and dogs.
Q: Sometimes, guests can get pretty careless as well…
Charles L. Starr III: Yes, always remember that the noise and commotion of Christmas guests can be stressful for some pets. Remind your guests to not give them table scraps. If your pet is excitable or prone to biting, you might just want to put him or her in a separate room with a pet bed, toys and treats.
Q: Thanks for taking some time with us today.
Charles L. Starr III: Absolutely. Nobody wants to see conscientious pet owners make avoidable mistakes around the holidays.
Charles L. Starr III is a practicing veterinarian in the Denver, Colorado area.