On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

What to do, and not do, for your pet

Share story

Dog at vet
Chocolate, a miniature dachshund, received acupuncture therapy from veterinarian Satoshi Okada to help with lumbar disk herniation at the Marina Street Okada animal hospital in Tokyo, Japan.
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Justine Lee, veterinarian and author, stopped by The Daily Circuit to answer pet-care questions. Here's a list of things to do, and to not do, to provide a good home for your pets.

THINGS TO DO:

• Keep a bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, in case your dog eats something poisonous.  "But you should never induce vomiting without talking to your veterinarian or an animal poison control first. ... A lot of people will induce vomiting when it's already too late. Their pets are already poisoned."

• Decorate your house with poinsettias. They are not poisonous.  "That's a huge myth. You can have poinsettias in your house if you have pets. Totally fine."

• Protect your dog's paws from sidewalk salt and other irritants.  "I would recommend using paw booties. Most dogs initially don't tolerate them well," but "You'd be surprised how quickly dogs get used to these booties."

• Let your dog lick you, within limits.  "It can become a behavioral neurosis, that  dogs are licking constantly. So just a firm 'no' ... or stop using that scent or lotion."

• If you have a Christmas tree, try covering the base to keep your pet from drinking water in the stand.  

•  Euthanize your pet when it's time to do so.  "I've never had a pet owner regret euthanizing too early. They regret euthanizing too late."

THINGS TO NOT DO:

• Keep chocolate-covered espresso beans where a dog can get them.  "For some reason in the United States, we always associate holidays with chocolate. So when people put chocolate gift-wrapped under the Christmas tree, or they're giving chocolate-covered espresso beans, obviously dogs can sniff that out. And unfortunately they get the double whammy when they get into it. We can see both caffeine poisoning and chocolate poisoning." 

• Induce vomiting in a cat. "There's nothing at home you can safely give to your cat to induce vomiting. You just have to go in to your veterinarian."

• Decorate your house with lilies.  "Lilies from the lilium or the Hemerocallis species are deadly. One or two leaves. Even the pollen, if the cat walks by a bouquet and licks the pollen off their fur, will die of acute kidney failure."

• Leave prescription drugs where your cat can get them.  "For some reason, they love to chew on amphetamines and antidepressants."

• If you have a Christmas tree, do not decorate it with tinsel or glass ornaments. 

• Let your cat outside.  "Indoor cats live, on average, three to four times longer."

LEARN MORE ABOUT PET OWNERSHIP:

• The real cost of pet ownership
That puppy in the window might "only" be $400 (up to $2,500, for certain breeds), but food, regular medical expenses, licenses and other miscellaneous costs, the average small pup costs $400-$600 a year, while a large breed can run around $700-$900. That doesn't include the costs of spaying and neutering, puppy obedience, dog crates, dog walkers, dog sitters, preventative medicines, household accessories and all the other little expenses that stack up. (Justine Lee)

• Three Ways to Keep Your Pets Safe During Winter (Accuweather)

• Winter Holiday Pet Poison Tips
A list of holiday-related decorations, plants and food items that the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline recommend keeping away from pets. (Pet Poison Hotline)