Published: Nov 25, 2010 3:59 AM EST
Updated: Nov 24, 2010 6:28 PM EST

The holidays have arrived, and they pose a number of dangers to our four-legged friends.   Dogs and cats become ill, and some even die, every holiday period because of the things they can eat or become exposed to.

"People often talk about child-proofing a house, and now, we need to think about pet-proofing our homes during the holidays," said Susan Weiss, founder of Ark Naturals pet products, based in Naples   "People need to see dangers, and it is not just the mistletoe and poinsettias and chocolates.   There are many things that can make a pet sick."

Those include:   ornaments that can shatter, electrical cords that dogs like to chew on, and tinsel and garland that some dogs will eat.     Tinsel proves to be especially dangerous.

"Every holiday season, we do operations on dogs that have tinsel or garland in their intestines.  The material does not pass through, so we have to cut in, and remove the material.   It usually is a major operation and the dog has to stay in the pet hospital for a number of days," said Dr. Whitney Whitfield, a veterinarian in Lehigh Acres.    "People just don't realize that so many things can be toxic to animals  --even things you'd never consider, like liquid potpourri -- very dangerous to cats and dogs.    Some dogs will try to eat batteries for kids' toys.  That can pose a real problem.  And  people food also is a bad idea for pets.    Turkey and chicken meat can have  bones that splinter and cut the stomach lining;  greasy foods can be too rich for animals and will make them sick."

You can get help with poison questions from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  (ASPCA).  Their animal poison control phone number is:    1-888-4-ANI-HELP,  or 1-888-426-4435.