The holidays are often a hectic and fun-filled time complete with special foods, decorations and parties. However, they can also be a stressful time for pets. The SPCA of Texas offers these guidelines for protecting your furry friends during the holiday season:

Certain foods can be fatal. Alcoholic beverages and coffee are no-nos, as are onions, salt, yeast, fatty foods, macadamia nuts and chocolate. Keep Fido out of the trash can, too—spoiled and moldy foods can cause digestive problems. Keep poisonous plants out of reach. These include lilies, which can cause kidney failure in cats; poinsettias and holly, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea; and mistletoe, which can cause cardiovascular problems and gastrointestinal upset. Keep the water in your Christmas tree stand covered. Tree water is often infested with fertilizer, bacteria and other harmful elements. Christmas trees can be hazardous—kittens can become entangled in tinsel and ribbon, and broken ornaments can tear at delicate paws. Keep electrical cords—a chewing temptation—away from Fido and Fluffy. Plastic gift bags can suffocate—keep them out of animals’ reach. Make sure candles and other unprotected flames are not within your pets’ reach. Spilled wax can cause burns if a curious cat or dog bumps into one and a flickering flame begs to be sniffed, pawed at and knocked over. Human medications should be stored out of pets’ reach. Just one regular-strength ibuprofen tablet can cause stomach ulcers in a 10-pound dog. Fumes from wrapping paper burned in the fireplace can be toxic to birds. Place telephone numbers for your veterinarian, an emergency vet service, the SPCA and ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-ANI-HELP) in a convenient location to make sure you'll be prepared in case of any pet medical emergency and you can add “peace of mind” to your holiday to do list.

For more information, visit the SPCA of Texas at www.spca.org or call 214-742-SPCA (7722).