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MDARD Encourages Owners to Help Keep Pets Safe this Holiday Season

Following a few easy tips can help ensure you have a healthy, happy holiday with your pets 

LANSING, MI— As Michiganders head into the holiday season, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is reminding owners of some of the best ways to keep their pets healthy and safe this holiday, including making sure they have all the vaccinations they need before traveling.

“At MDARD, we want to stress the importance of looking out for our pets, especially during the holiday season,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “Now is the time to take steps to ensure pets are up to date on the vaccinations they need to maintain their health, which could include non-routine vaccinations like canine influenza. Also, keeping pets away from fatty foods and decorations can help keep them safe during holiday celebrations with family and friends.”

Keep pets safe this holiday season by following these six easy tips:

Spread Only Joy: Make sure pets are up to date on their vaccinations and keep them home if they are sick
When pets travel or encounter other people and animals, they can be exposed to contagious diseases, which is why ensuring they are fully vaccinated is so important.

Also, depending on where you are traveling, some areas may have diseases not currently in Michigan or have a disease outbreak—such as how some U.S. states are experiencing increased cases of canine influenza. Be sure to discuss travel or boarding plans with your veterinarian to determine how best to protect your pets from disease. Based on their risk, your veterinarian may recommend additional vaccinations.

Keep your pet at home and away from other animals if they exhibit any signs of illness and contact your veterinarian for further care.

Happy Tummies: Avoid feeding pets people foods
Pets cannot enjoy all of the same foods and treats we do. Fatty foods (like turkey/turkey skin, meat fat, and gravy) can cause pancreatitis—even when consumed in small amounts. Also, chocolate, grapes/raisins, onions, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in many candies and gum) can be poisonous to pets; bones can cause injury and illness.

Avoid Temptations: Keep holiday decorations out of reach
Sparkling ornaments, tinsel, and lights make for a beautiful display and can catch our pets' eye. If consumed, these items could cause intestinal blockages or other injuries. Be sure these items are out of their reach, along with candles, potpourris, and some festive flowers/plants—such as mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias. 

Search No More: Make sure pets have proper identification
With all the holiday activities, pets can easily sneak out and get lost. Make sure pets have identification tags and microchips updated with your current contact information to ensure they can be returned home.

Destress and Decompress: Have a quiet space for your pets
Holiday celebrations can be loud and overly stimulating for pets.  So it is important to have a quiet space set aside for them to go if they are getting too stressed. Also, have the room stocked with their food, water, litter pan, etc. in case they want to maintain their distance for an extended period of time.

Cleared for Take-off: Ensure your pet is fit for travel
If you will be travelling with your pets this holiday season, talk with your veterinarian to determine what steps, documents, or preventative care might be needed to ensure your pet is ready to go! Destination states, countries, commercial carriers, and even lodging facilities can all have different requirements for your pets to accompany you. More resources can also be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pet Travel website or on MDARD’s animal movement website.

These tips can help your pets stay holly, jolly, and safe this holiday season. If there are ever any concerns about your pets’ health now or beyond the holidays, please talk to your veterinarian.