You feed your pets organic food and go out of your way to ensure they’re healthy. But the holidays pose special risks, so follow these tips from Dr. Lorraine Corriveau, a wellness veterinarian at Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine (pictured here with Chili, a military macaw).

Chocolate: You may have more organic chocolate than usual around the house—lovely for humans, but toxic for pets (especially dogs) because it contains theobromine. Bittersweet and baking chocolate, the varieties most often found in kitchens during the holidays, contain more theobromine than the average candy bar. If your dog eats chocolate, call a veterinarian or your animal poison control center immediately.

Candles: Candles should never be left burning unattended. Flames and shadows are tantalizing to pets. Make sure lit candles are always kept a safe distance from them.

Decorative Plants: Some plants and greenery, including holly, ivy and mistletoe, can be very tempting, but they are toxic if a pet eats them. Keep all decorative plants out of reach or out of the home.

Tinsel: Decorating your tree? Cats and kittens seem to find shiny tinsel especially appealing. If eaten, thin pieces of string or tinsel can cause the intestines to bunch up and can even cut through the intestinal wall. Either could be fatal.

Electric cords: Light strands, loose wires and electric cords can be a serious hazard to your pet. Some animals, especially puppies, may chew cords and put themselves at risk of serious burns or electric shock.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of this story.

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Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger