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The holiday season is a wonderful time for family and friends to gather, but it can also present risks to pets. Below are tips to keep them safe.

Keep pets on their regular diets. New foods can cause abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea. If you want to treat your pets to turkey, peel the skin off and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Cranberries, carrots, green beans, peas, pumpkin and cooked sweet potato are options too. Give treats in moderation.

Avoid turkey skin and bones, gravy, alcohol, Allium species (onions, garlic, chives and leeks), grapes and raisins, nuts and chocolate. Turkey skin contains too many oils and spices. Bones can break into pieces, which can irritate the stomach or intestines or lodge in the esophagus. Gravy is fatty and can cause pancreatitis. A small amount of alcohol can cause disorientation or even death. Nuts are a choking hazard and can contain toxins. Allium species can destroy red blood cells. Raisins and grapes can damage the liver. Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea or even heart failure.

Keep your pets out of the kitchen. Hot stoves pose a burn hazard year-round, but they're especially dangerous when preparing a holiday feast. With hot dishes being whisked from one counter to the next, underfoot pets can easily be burned. Aluminum foil, plastic wrap and food packaging can smell as tasty as the foods they protected, and swallowing any of these can cause a dangerous intestinal obstruction.

While decorations are pretty, they present a dangerous temptation. Stagnant tree water can cause nausea or diarrhea if a pet drinks it, while confetti, tinsel and wrapping paper can become lodged in the digestive tract if eaten. Fairy lights, if chewed, can lead to burns and electrocution. Candle flames can burn curious noses and playful paws. There’s also the risk of candles falling when bumped. Snow globes often contain anti-freeze; a small sip can be fatal. Salt dough ornaments, with their large amounts of salt, can be equally fatal. Holly, ivy, mistletoe and poinsettias might cause an upset stomach; lilies are lethal.

Some pets adapt well to the hustle-and-bustle of guests. For those that don’t, distract them with toys, puzzle feeders, or by inviting guests to play with them. In addition, maintain a regular schedule for food and exercise, ensure fresh water is available, and provide a quiet space to retreat from commotions.

Lincoln Animal Ambassadors wishes you a happy and safe holiday season. Thank you for your support over the past year. LAA looks forward to serving you again in the new year.

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