DEAR ABBY: Holidays can be stressful and even dangerous for pets. Here are some things pet owners can do to make them less so for their four-legged companions:
1. Feed, walk or play with them before the party, then take them to a quiet room with water and a nice treat. With a cat, make sure they have their litter box as well.
2. If you're traveling, make sure your pet is properly restrained in your car with a seat belt harness or a secured carry crate. If you can't take your pet along, board your pet or use a reliable pet sitter.
3. Remember that "people food" usually isn't safe for Fido or Fluffy. Chocolate, alcohol, eggnog (dairy) and other items can be toxic to your pet. DO have appropriate treats on hand.
4. Don't leave dogs outside, especially if it gets cold. Bring them inside.
5. If you have cats that go outside, consider bringing them in or providing a nice, warm box for them to curl up in at night.
6. Christmas trees are pure temptation for your cat, with dangling items to play with and an opportunity to climb. Be sure your tree is securely anchored. Consider leaving the tinsel off your tree, and placing your ornaments where the cats cannot knock them off.
7. Electrical cords look like things to chew and can shock your pet. Cover them with special cord covers or use chew-deterrent sprays.
8. Christmas wrapping paper, ribbon and other items can choke your pet. So dispose of waste from opening presents right away.
I hope these tips will help everyone have a safe and great holiday season. -- ANIMAL LOVER IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR ANIMAL LOVER: And I hope my readers will take to heart what you have written because your suggestions are important. Thank you for your letter.
DEAR ABBY: My uncle who has Alzheimer's has declined rapidly. Prior to his decline, I bought 30 greeting cards every month and made sure to mail one to him each day. I live in Florida, and he lives in Kentucky.
I received much satisfaction and joy with every post I sent. My mother would open the cards and tape them to the outside of the door of his room. His neighbors would pause and read them as they passed by, and he used the montage of seasonal greetings as a way to recognize his door.
My uncle is no longer cognizant or coherent, and my mother has told me to stop sending the cards. Abby, I need this activity in my life. How can I find another person who would welcome a greeting card? I am semi-paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. I have no interest in meeting, visiting or even talking to the recipient; I just want to send greeting cards. Suggestions? -- LOVES SENDING SMILES
DEAR LOVES: It's time to find another outlet for your caring and compassion. Contact the eldercare facilities in your community, speak to the directors and ask if one (or more) of the residents might enjoy receiving your seasonal greetings. I'm betting the answer will be yes.
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