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Pet-Proof Your Home For Emotional Support Animals This Christmas

Press Release: December 12, 2018

SupportDogCertification.org launches an appeal to owners of emotional support animals (ESAs) to add house ‘pet proofing’ to their Christmas to-do lists, ensuring that potential edible hazards and other potentially dangerous items are out of the reach of ESAs, thereby avoiding unnecessary trips to the vet’s emergency room.

Cheery Season Can Be Dangerous For ESAs
Christmas is an enjoyable time of fun and festivities for many families, but presents, decorations and treats such as chocolate are dangerous for the special family member —Emotional Support Animal (ESA), who provides companionship and support to alleviate symptoms of mental or emotional disabilities, such as anxiety and depression. While the ESAs aid the owner’s everyday life with care, the owners should take pet-proofing measures, especially during the festive period, to keep them safe.

Common Christmas Dangers ESAs Face
Generally, dogs and cats are the most popular choices for ESAs and they are no strangers to a veterinary appointment at Christmas. A survey by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) shows that 79% of vets in the North West of England had treated a companion animal due to toxic ingestion over the Christmas break in 2017. Chocolate, nuts, mistletoe and holly are an integral part of winter holidays, but they are dangerous for dogs and cats to consume. The United Kingdom's out-of-hours pet emergency service sees a 78% increase in chocolate poisoning cases over Christmas Day and the day after.

Apart from holiday food, Christmas decorations are another serious hazard to ESAs. Emotional support animals are therapeutic treatments that offer a person love, security, comfort and companionship, but they are not trained. Naturally, they are attracted to the same things as other pets. And, as Dr. Victor Schulze from the North Bentwood Veterinary Hospital observed "pets are very attracted to the shiny objects and the twinkling lights." They are more likely to bite down on the cord or candles, which can get them electrocuted or burned. In addition, festive decorations such as ribbons, ornaments, and candles are also toxic to them.

Holiday Safety, Health Tips and Precautions
To avoid any trips to the animal emergency room, SupportDogCertification.org recommends the following security measures that will allow the furry family members to join in the holiday fun this Christmas:

▪ Keep festive food and drink out of reach
The foods and drinks mentioned below cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Some can cause more severe symptoms such as heart arrhythmias, seizures or even organ damage— chocolate treats on the table; raisins and sultanas found in fruit cake and mince pies; butter, creams and fatty meats served at Christmas dinner; alcohol contained in many desserts, beverages and unbaked yeast dough.

▪ Decorate with regard to the safety of ESAs
A number of festive decorations are dangerous for cats and dogs, such as ribbons, wrapping paper, plastic ornaments, tinsel and tree lights that can seem like appealing toys but can cause intestinal rapture when broken, chewed or swallowed. Place these risky items out of reach or put a pet-proof barrier around the holiday tree.

▪ Keep them away from the seasonal plants/poisons
Securely anchor the Christmas tree so it does not tip over and fall, possibly resulting in injuries to the ESA friend. This will also prevent access to the plant water, which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach pain if inhaled or indigested. Holly berries, mistletoe and poinsettias are all toxic to cats and dogs.

▪ Provide them with a quiet place to relax
Ensure a comfortable environment for ESAs. They may be nervous or frightened by the chaos of the holidays with unfamiliar guests coming and going. Therefore, it is a good idea to provide a safe “retreat” for ESAs such as a room where their bed is surrounded by toys, far away from noise, people and confusion.

▪ Be considerate of ESAs
ESAs also need emotional support. For ESAs to stay happy and healthy, they need a lot of companionship and love from their owners. Make sure you spend a certain amount of time with them despite the busy holidays. Also, a bored ESAs is more likely to get into mischief, so keep them active and entertained. Consider a new toy and play with them or take a long walk this Christmas.

For additional information on ESA health and safety tips and advice visit https://www.supportdogcertification.org, or https://www.supportdogcertification.org/blog.

Support Dog Certification

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