If only I had known

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Keep the festivities safe for your pets

December is such a happy fun time for families and friends to share in get-togethers. It is a time of giving and for some a time of some well-deserved rest. December always brings back the memories of the smell of fresh-cut grass and fires being lit in the late afternoon.
Unfortunately, this is also a time when accidents are just waiting to happen. “If only I had known” is a phrase I have heard so many times and the end of the story is usually sad or traumatic.
When we are relaxed and having a good time with friends and family, we often don’t notice little things that can potentially ruin the festivities but more importantly, cause severe trauma and suffering to a beloved pet. It’s not that we are bad pet owners or that we don’t care. If we had known about certain things beforehand, it would not have happened
I have compiled a list of things to be careful of, to ensure that your pets are also having a great time and not end up in the animal hospital over December.
  • As South Africans, we love to braai, and I do as well! Sosatie sticks are extremely dangerous for pets. The stick is drenched with the flavours of the meat and dog and cats don’t realize that it’s not edible. They swallow the sticks, and it can be fatal. Don’t leave sosatie sticks lying around and make sure that each one ends up in the waste bin.
  • Still about braai. Pets love lying under the braai, especially much later when everyone has gone to bed. Make sure that you put the coals out completely and if you have a weber type braai, put the lid back.
  • Don’t allow children and dogs to run, play and rough play near the braai. A braai that gets knocked over, can cause severe injuries. While you are braaing, watch out for the spatter of coals and sticks from the braai, that might shoot out and fall on a pet or child.
  • Keep firelighters in a safe place, dogs love chewing on them. Don’t leave any plastic packaging lying around after the braai, as pets may chew on it, or even get entangled in it.
  • If you remove a hot roster from the braai, put it in a safe place where pets are not able to sniff or lick at it. They could end up with severe burns on their tongues and noses.
  • Dispose of meat packaging and wrappers immediately and keep them well away from pets. Pets love chewing on polystyrene, and this can be fatal.
  • Keep any glassware such as bowls, beer bottles and drinking glasses in safe places, to ensure that it does not get knocked off a table by a dog’s tail or a bump to the table. Having to clean up glass splinters when you have pets around, is a nightmare and can cause serious injuries.
  • Remove any cutlery or utensils such as knives, forks and braai tongs after your meal. A pet can easily pick up a knife without you noticing it and injure himself.
  • Alcohol and pets don’t mix. Keep an eye on friends or family that might be enjoying their drinks a little too much. Pets are easily frightened by intoxicated individuals, and it might cause aggression and can lead to a human getting bitten.
  • Don’t leave alcohol in places where pets can easily get to it. Alcohol is toxic to pets and can be fatal.
  • Keep an eye on gates and doors when guests arrive and leave. Pets often slip out without us noticing and while you are entertaining guests, you might only notice it hours later. Keep your pets away from vehicles when guests arrive or leave.
  • If you have a swimming pool, someone in the family should be appointed to always monitor the pool while you have guests. Dogs and children might play and swim together and accidents happen quickly. When you have loud music, you won’t hear anyone in need of help.
  • If you can, keep your pets away when it’s time to eat. People often feed bones to pets, without you noticing. Even though you might have asked them beforehand not to do so, it might still happen. Rather prevent this completely or be vigilant about it. A sharp bone that a pet is not used to, can be fatal. Clear all plates after your meal and dispose of any leftovers so that pets can’t get to it, in the kitchen while you are in a different part of the house with guests.
  • Teach your children how to behave around pets and teach them to respect pets who do not want to engage in play. Children running around and screeching, laughing or just being loud, might trigger a pet’s prey drive.
  • The last point is funny. Do you think you can ask your guests to keep their handbags closed and zipped up? Pets love finding little treasures in there. Imagine looking for your car keys when it’s time to go home and Bruno has taken them? On a more serious note, a guest might have medication in her handbag and the consequences of a pet finding this can only end badly.
I hope you found some value in this. If it helped save the life of one pet, then I am happy.
Enjoy your time with family, friends and loved ones! You deserve it!


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