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5 Vet Tips for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season with your Pets

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(BPT) - After a difficult year, there's one thing most people can agree on: They're thankful for their pets. According to a new Purina survey, 93% of consumers are grateful for their pets this holiday season. During this special time of year, we should give them some extra attention and love in return.

From decking the halls, to planning the perfect pet-safe holiday feast, there are a number of ways to incorporate the dogs and cats we love into the season. Dr. Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD, and Chief Veterinary Officer at Purina, has gathered some pet-friendly tips for a safe and festive holiday season.

Deck the Halls (Safely). While beautifully festive, some holiday plants can be poisonous or toxic, especially to children and dogs. Steer clear of holly, mistletoe and amaryllis — all of which can make your dog sick if ingested. If one of these plants has been eaten by mistake, be sure to contact your veterinarian immediately.

Skip the Table Scraps. It’s tempting to slip our four-legged friends a taste of the holiday foods we love this time of year, but it’s best to stick to nutritionist developed and science-backed pet foods to avoid tummy trouble or an emergency vet visit. Many holiday favorites, from chocolate, grapes and raisins to ingredients like onions, can be hazardous to pets. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in things like gum, mints and candy can be very hazardous to dogs even in very small amounts. To make mealtime more special for your dog or cat, try mixing wet pet food with dry kibble to add texture. Cats can especially benefit from the hydration boost that wet food offers.

Bring on the Cookie Swap. Instead of sharing sweet treats with your pets during the holidays, swap the cookies for new pet treats during your next shopping trip or online order. There are so many textures and flavors available, it’s easy to keep the wags and purrs coming. For dogs, incorporate flavors of the holiday season with options like The Pioneer Woman Bacon, Apple & Maple Recipe Waffles Dog Treats or The Pioneer Woman Chicken Cranapple Recipe Jerky Sticks Dog Treats. For your feline friends, extend treat time with breakable pieces of Fancy Feast Savory Cravings cat treats. To avoid extra holiday weight on your pets, be sure to limit treats to be no more than 10% of their daily caloric intake.

Run, Run, Rudolph. Weather permitting, take your dog on a long walk or run to enjoy in the sights (and smells) of the season and work off holiday meals and extra treats. Just be sure to clean off your pooch’s paws afterward if you’re walking on salted sidewalks. If the weather outside is frightful, engage in some indoor games and playtime to give your dog or cat the exercise and enrichment needed to stay happy and healthy. Purina pet enrichment expert, Alex Johnson, put together 10 creative cat and dog enrichment ideas that are worth checking out.

Give back to pets in need. During the season of giving in a year of great need, there’s no better way to celebrate your pet and all the pets that give us unconditional love than by donating to nonprofits that help pets and people. According to Purina’s survey, more than 90% of consumers said they are planning to make a charitable contribution to one or more nonprofits this holiday season, and nearly 60% of consumers are considering giving to animal shelters and pet organizations. To learn how you can support pet-centered nonprofits in need, visit www.Purina.com/Gratitude.

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