As the tree goes up, the holiday decorations come out and homes fill with family and friends, the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) is reminding pet owners to please keep their pets away from the following hazards this holiday season:

• Holidays plants — poinsettias, mistletoe, holly and Christmas rose are toxic to our furry friends.

• Holiday décor — tinsel, ribbon, glass ornaments and gift wrap can become a choking hazard to playful pets.

• Bright, twinkling string lights — pretty as they may be, a string of lights can cause quite a shock to curious pets.

• Toxic tree water — pine sap mixed with water makes a poisonous drink for pets — cover water stand with foil.

• Holiday feast — those sad eyes are hard to resist, but the fat content in a traditional holiday meal can lead to belly aches or worse, pancreatitis — a very serious illness. Alcohol and chocolate are also toxic to pets.

In addition, as the hustle and bustle of the holidays takes over, keep an eye on pets as guests arrive for their annual visit. Pets can often become stressed due to a change in their routine, yet this can be counteracted by providing them with a quiet room complete with their bedding, blankets, toys, food and water. For pets who love to be part of the action, keep an eye on the frequent opening and closing of doors, which can lead to pets escaping into the great outdoors. Whether staying or going this holiday season, all pet owners should be sure their pets are outfitted with a collar, proper identification and a microchip, while also following the pet safety travel tips:

• Do your research — whether traveling by plane, train or automobile, follow the specified pet travel guidelines.

• Visit your vet — be sure pets are in good health and have been vaccinated — many airlines require health certificates.

• Be prepared — ensure that your trip includes pet-friendly accommodations and many of the comforts of home — a pet’s own food, treats, toys and bedding will make them more comfortable.

• Heading to the cold — keep pets indoors, watch out for chemicals like antifreeze and check for stowaway cats trying to get warm inside car engines.

• Stick with the routine — keep your pet’s routine on track by maintaining scheduled feeding times, walks, etc.

• Keep an eye on your pet — just as you would never leave a child unattended, stick by your pet’s side.

• Bretta Nelson is public relations manager for the Arizona Humane Society (AHS), the state’s largest, nonprofit animal-welfare and protection agency. Visit them at

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