PRESENTS FOR PETS: Humans aren’t the only ones getting spoiled

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Delivering gifts to children on Christmas Eve is Santa’s job and while his bag may be loaded down with toys for the little tikes, he does not forget about the stockings hung on the fireplace mantle for pets.

For six years, Jan Blackledge has hung a red stocking with a Santa on it for her apricot poodle, Nick.

“I got him as a Christmas present from my girls, and we kind of go overboard with him” Blackledge said.

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Rescued from a shelter in Oxford, Nick had ear mites, was severely malnourished, and “he was scared.”

Nevertheless, the little pooch adjusted to his new life and every year receives treats from Santa and on several occasions a new sweater.

Like Nick, pets can be a wonderful addition for families, but just like small children, precautions must be taken to keep them safe during the holiday season.

Dr. Stephanie Duhon of the Vicksburg Animal Clinic said electrical cords and medication are at the top of the list of four-legged mishaps.

“Go ahead and pull the plug,” Duhon said, warning that a chewed plug could not only electrocute your pet, but an injured cord could burn the house down.

Medications become a concern when there are visitors in the home for the holidays, and if a pet gets them, it could be dangerous.

“Just like at your house, guests need to keep medications in a secure location. If grandma comes to visit and has medication in her purse, the best of pets can be curious,” Duhon said.

Securing the Christmas tree is also necessary to keep pets safe, especially for those who have cats.

“Cats climb tress so they need to be anchored,” Duhon said, adding breakable ornaments need to hang at waist level to be out of reach.

“Some of the older ornaments have lead paint on them,” she said.

Tinsel is a big attractor for feline friends.

“It goes down OK, but it does not come out OK.”

Duhon also suggested if there are wrapped packages, which contain food, it is best not to put them under the tree. Pets can sniff it out and tearing into a gift can be hazardous.

Chocolate can be harmful for a dog and the darker the chocolate the more toxic.

A press release from the Louisiana State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital states table food can also be a concern for dogs.

“Table food causes dogs to suffer from acute gastroenteritis (an inflammation of the stomach and intestines) or pancreatitis. In both diseases, dogs experience severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and listlessness. Bones may lead to obstructions in the esophagus, the stomach, or the intestine and lead to severe digestive signs. Furthermore, grapes, raisins and onions are foods that dogs and cats should not receive. They are toxic to pets and can cause potentially fatal diseases, such as acute kidney failure, anemia, or seizures.” Ornamental plants like poinsettias, mistletoes and holly can also cause stomach upset for pets.

If in doubt – call a veterinarian, Duhon said.

“We have a veterinarian on call 24/7 and if it is an emergency you can also call the human poison control help line.”

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is also a resource for any animal poison-related emergency, Duhon said. According to their website, the service is offered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 888-426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.


About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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