Animal Safety

Animal Safety: Holidays by Fred the Preparedness Dog

Happy holiday season to all of my friends and fans. We’re at that time of year again with large family meals, parties, decorations and presents. As I made my way through the Thanksgiving excitement, I thought it would be important to share some tips to help you keep your animal friends and I safe during these festive times.

People are busy visiting friends and family this time of year. Parties and get-togethers seem to happen nearly every weekend. It can be very exciting! It can also be frightening for your furry friends. Some pets are on the shy side and the idea of having a lot of people coming and going is really not their style. Take a few minutes and make sure there is a quiet, “No People Allowed” room where pets can be with their toys, food, water and treats. Festivities can last awhile, so make sure to plan pet breaks, especially for dogs that need to go outside without having to go through a crowd. If your pet mingles about with guests, watch them carefully while people come in and out of the house. Pets might take the chance to dart through an open door to play outside. No one wants to leave their guests alone at a party for a surprise game of hide-and-seek with their pet in the neighborhood.

Parties and dinners also mean goodies and treats. I know it’s tough, but the holidays are not the time to break your pet’s healthy diet. To help keep your pet from getting sick during the holidays, remember:

  • Foods with grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs;
  • Chocolate is highly toxic to both dogs and cats: it may cause vomiting, diarrhea and even heart problems;
  • Gum and candy could have a sweetener in it that is toxic to dogs; and (sigh)
  • Fatty meat from that holiday meal may lead to tummy aches, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Also, bones could cause your furry friend to choke.

Decorating for the holidays is a great family activity this time of year. While getting in the holiday spirit at home, don’t forget the safety of your pets.

Lights are often the first sign that the holiday season is underway and can really brighten up those long winter nights, but be sure to keep an eye on your cat or dog. Pets can easily get an electric shock from chewing on wires and cords causing tongue injuries or even death.

Some plants are poisonous for animals. Pine tree needles, holly, mistletoe and poinsettias can all cause severe stomach issues for dogs and cats. Cats love to nibble on plants, but a single lily leaf can be deadly to our feline friends.

Tinsel is really shiny and moves at the slightest breeze. Sometimes it is too much temptation for your pet and might be eaten, get twisted and bundle inside their tummy. It can also cause them to choke. Glass, paper and other ornaments can look like fun, new chew toys and easily become a choking hazard too. They can also fall off the tree, break and cut your pet’s mouth or paw.

If you think your pet is sick or hurt, have an adult call the veterinarian.

Many people exchange gifts during the holidays and with that comes wrapping paper, bows and ribbon. Like tinsel, ribbons can become a choking hazard to a curious pup or cat. Take care to quickly discard of any unused gift wrap supplies to avoid an emergency for your family’s furry loved ones.

The best gift is to keep yourself and your family (including the fuzzy ones) safe this season. No one wants to include the trip to the “emergency room” as part of this year’s holiday story. – Fred the Preparedness Dog.


Animal Safety: Biting – A Dog's View by Fred the Preparedness Dog

Emergencies and disasters are frightening to people and animals alike. Like most people, when I get scared I try to run away from whatever is scaring me. When I'm getting away I usually have my tail low or even hidden between my legs, my ears are down, my eyes may look very big, and my body may look a little smaller than I really am. Running away, growling, barking, and biting are ways I protect myself at times if I'm scared. These are the times when I really don't want to be around anyone except maybe my very close family. It's at this time when biting is a lot more likely to happen.

I wanted to talk a little bit about biting. As a dog, or really almost any animal, I only have a few ways that I can try and tell you the way I feel. The hard part is that I can't tell you with words so you have to learn how to read what I am saying with my body and sounds. I mentioned above that barking and growling are a couple of ways that I protect myself. Here's something to remember about that: I can bark when I'm scared, I can bark when I'm happy, I can bark when I want to play or when I want to meet a new friend, so just because I'm barking doesn't mean that it's a scared bark. To help know what my bark means, you have to also look at what my body is doing. Some important places on my body to pay attention to are my ears, my lips, my tail, and my back. These areas can help let you know how I'm feeling. Knowing how I'm feeling can help you stay safe around me.

Let's talk a little bit about dogs and biting. Did you know that I can bite with about 240 pounds of force? What does that mean? It means that when I bite something, especially when scared, it can be equal to the weight of 240 pounds. That's equal to the weight of Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson! If I were to bite as hard as I can on someone's arm, it would be like Derrick standing on that arm! Plus, I have big teeth which would be like him wearing his football shoes while standing on the arm. OUCH! This is why it is really important for you to understand how I am feeling and what my body is trying to tell you. Being bitten will hurt, a lot, but it is one of the things that can happen especially if a dog, cat or other animal is scared, so be careful.

Biting is usually the last thing we as dogs want to do, but not all of us. Even the nicest of us can bite if scared. A good rule to remember is that “any dog can bite.” So what can you do to help yourself stay safe? In an emergency or disaster, don't approach an animal. If the animal is with their owner, that is where they want to be and the owner is taking care of them and trying to make them feel safe. If the animal is running free, tell an adult. Tell the adult what kind of animal it was, what it looked like and where it was going. Adults and emergency responders will look for and safely take care of the animal.

Be sure to stay safe around animals. Always ask the owner before you try and pet or touch an animal. Always stay away from an animal during an emergency and tell an adult if that animal is running free. And finally, don't forget to learn what a dog or cat is trying to say with their body since we can't talk. For more information on what your dog is trying to tell you with his body, see the Modern Dog Magazine article at Thanks for reading. –Fred the Preparedness Dog.