The shorter days and cooler weather have arrived, and the holidays are right around the corner. This time of year, while exciting, can also pose new risks for your four-legged family members and Veterinary Medical Center Europe wants to make sure you know how to keep your pet safe.

With the holiday season comes decorations and tasty treats. However, these can be harmful to your pets. When it comes to planning your holiday, keep these tips in mind:

1) Keep people food away from pets! Food such as chocolate, sweets and baked goods, turkey and turkey skin and table scraps can all be dangerous for your pet. If you want to share holiday treats with them, make or buy them their own.

2) Decorations can pose risky temptations for pets! To keep your tree from toppling over, from a curious friend, consider securing it to the wall. Ornaments can also pose a risk, place breakable and homemade ornaments up higher on your tree. Poinsettias can be troublesome for pets as well -- keep flowers and festive plants away from pets.

"Especially during the winter holidays, there are various hazards for pets," said Capt. Kristine Moss, Officer in Charge of Outpatient services at VMCE. "It starts with glass ornaments on the Christmas tree that cats seem to love and tasty food that dogs nip from the dinner table."

Even after the holidays are over, the colder weather will linger and can present numerous hazards to your pet. Provide your pet a safe and healthy winter by following these tips:

1) Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze.

2) Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow.

3) During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

4) Wipe your pet's paws and underside after being outside. Salt and ice melt can irritate and burn, and also be fatal if ingested.

5) Don't let your dog off leash especially during a snowstorm. They can easily lose their scent and get lost.

6) Keep animals away from winter puddles. They may contain ethylene glycol found in antifreeze which can be fatal if ingested.

7) Avoid the ice! When walking your dog, be sure to avoid frozen lakes and ponds. Your dog could be seriously hurt or even killed if the ice breaks.

8) Be seen! Due to Daylight Savings, many of us are relegated to walking our dogs in the dark. Keep yourself and your dog are safe by wearing reflective gear (clothing, leash, collar, etc.) and keeping your dog close when walking on the street.

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