While the holidays may be a festive time of year, they are filled with many hazards for pets.

The Arizona Animal Welfare League & Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (AAWL & SPCA) recommends ways to keep pets safe, and also cautions against giving an animal as a gift.

AAWL & SPCA urges pet owners to keep a watchful eye on their animal companions this season – and remember these safety tips:

Decorations: Keep tinsel, hooks, ribbon, popcorn strands and other decorations away from pets. If swallowed, these items can be deadly. Watch out for glass ornaments, which can break and end up embedded in pets’ paws. Fragile ornaments can shatter in an animal’s mouth and leave shards of glass in your pet’s teeth or gums. Anchor your Christmas tree securely so that pets can’t knock it over. Don’t hang ornaments on low branches where they will tempt curious kitties and playful pups.

Electric cords and candles: Tape down or conceal electric cords. Be sure strands of lights are safely out of paw’s reach. If your pet chews on an electric cord, she could get a fatal 100-volt charge. Keep your Christmas and Hanukkah candles in places where your pets can’t knock them over and burn them or your home.

Plants: Many holiday plants can harm your pets. Mistletoe can give your pet an upset stomach and may cause heart problems. Holly can cause vomiting, nausea and lethargy. Poinsettias can upset your pet’s digestive system. Chemicals used in water to preserve Christmas trees can be poisonous to pets – don’t let your animal drink from the tree stand.

Alcohol and chocolate: Never give an animal alcohol. Be aware of party guests leaving unfinished alcoholic beverages on low tables or other places where pets will find them. Dogs and cats can become seriously ill or die after ingesting just a few ounces of alcohol.

Keep all chocolate out of paw’s reach. Chocolate contains chemicals that can over-stimulate your pet’s neurological and cardiac systems, leading to coma and death.

Emergency veterinary care: Find out if and when your veterinarian will be open during the holiday season. Also know the location of the emergency animal clinic nearest you. If your pet requires immediate care, you won’t have time to search for the address and phone number. Look it up now, just in case.

Pets as gifts: If you are going to give an animal as a gift, you can offer to visit AAWL & SPCA with your gift recipient so he or she can pick out a pet that will be compatible with his or her needs and lifestyle; then you can pay for the adoption fee of the animal.

Consider making a donation to AAWL & SPCA in someone’s name. To find out how to help a homeless animal in need, go to www.AAWL.org.Register online at www.aawl.org or call (602) 273-6852, ext. 101.

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