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AVMA's Top Ten List on Holiday Pet Health

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Nov. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. James Cook, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), says he has a very unhappy holiday tradition -- treating pets that have become sick due to holiday excesses.

"From Thanksgiving through Christmas and into New Years, we'll see it every year at my practice, and, unfortunately, some of them can't be saved," Dr. Cook explains. "People want to involve their pets in the holiday celebrations, but people need to focus on keeping their pets healthy. That's the best gift."

Here are the AVMA's top ten holiday health tips:

-- Keep table scraps out of your pet's diet. "Salty, spicy and greasy" can be deadly for pets, Dr. Cook explains. Fatty foods can cause a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis in dogs, and bones can splinter in an animal's stomach. And make sure your dog can't get leftovers from the trash.

-- Chocolate should be out of reach of dogs because it's poisonous. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous -- with baker's chocolate being the most deadly.

-- Avoid sweets. A study reported in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2006 linked xylitol -- a common sweetener in baked goods, candy and chewing gum-with liver failure and death in dogs.

-- Give your pet healthy holiday snacks. Recipes are available on the Internet or visit a pet store/bakery. Ask your veterinarian about healthy treats.

-- Anchor your holiday tree. It's a temptation for pets, and, if it topples, it can cause severe injuries. And keep pets away from the tree water as tree preservatives and sap can cause gastrointestinal problems.

-- Never leave a pet alone with a lit candle or exposed flame, and be wary of exposed extension cords.

-- Don't let pets dine on holiday plants. Poinsettia, holly, cedar, balsam, pine and mistletoe are poisonous.

-- Be careful about ornaments. Cats sometimes consume tinsel and other small decorations, which can block intestines.

-- Don't go off to a holiday party and leave your pet with access to table scraps or anything that might be dangerous. If your dog gets sick while you're away ... it could be a tragic holiday.

-- Finally, don't give a pet as a holiday gift. Giving up a poorly-selected, new pet in January is heartbreaking.

For information, contact the AVMA at

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