FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Pet Sitters International Offers Tips For Protecting Pets During the Holidays King, North Carolina, December 21, 2006As people everywhere prepare to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, Pet Sitters International, the worlds largest educational association for professional pet sitters, reminds pet owners that preventable accidents are the number one cause of death for pre-senior pets. Consider incorporating these four suggestions into any holiday plans that involve pets: Avoid the Dog Flu It's flu season again and a highly contagious strain of the dog flu that appeared in 2005 may show up again. Last year, cases were confirmed in 10 statesa number that could increase this year. The flu virus is highly contagious, and nearly 100 percent of dogs exposed will catch the flu. Although not generally considered deadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 5 to 8 percent of the dogs that become infected will die from the illness. Dogs are exposed to the virus in social circles including dog parks, doggie day cares and kennels. Symptoms mimic kennel cough, including cough and nasal discharge. PSI recommends dog owners limiting their dogs interactions with other dogs during this time. Pet owners who are traveling over the holidays should consider hiring a professional pet sitter to come into their come and care for their pet while they are away. Should pets exhibit symptoms of dog flu, veterinary treatment is recommended to help suppress the symptoms and treat any secondary infections. People Food is for People It is always tempting to share yummy morsels of people food with pets, especially while enjoying the excesses of the holidays. Although slipping a begging pooch food from the kitchen table may be well intended, human food, in fact, can be unhealthy and even harmful to pets. Foods laden with fat can be hard on pets digestive systems. Even small amounts of rich foods can trigger bouts of diarrhea and/or vomiting for pets. Fatty foods also carry the same health risks for animals as they do peopleonly on a larger scale. Such treats may also lead to reluctance of some pets to return to their normal diets. Alcohol, chocolate, caffeinated beverages and treats with artificial sweeteners like xylitol* are definite no-nos. For pets, these items have the potential to cause illness or even death. PSI recommends removing pets from areas where holiday foods will be present. Provide a secure and comfortable room for your pet to play in during holiday functions. Trash cans containing food scraps should be emptied outside prior to letting pets return to the common areas of the home. Consider hiring a professional pet sitter to care for your pet during your holiday functions or while you are away visiting family and friends. Practice Discretionary Deorating Lights candles ACCIDENT! Strands of Christmas lights, flickering candles, shinny ornaments and decorations can be an invitation for disaster for people with pets. Holiday plants like Christmas rose, hibiscus, holly, mistletoe (berries) and poinsettia are poisonous to cats or dogs, if ingested. Equally, the water found in the basin of Christmas tree stands is a serious hazard for household animals. A pets natural curiosity will almost certainly be aroused by any new additions to its homes normal environment, so it is up to the pet owner to take the proper precautions to avoid an accident. PSI recommends pet owners unplug lights and motorized decorations before leaving home. Any fragile or potentially hazardous decorations or plants should be placed out of your pets reach. Items that pose an obvious fascination for pets should also be removed. Lit candles should be extinguished when pets are present. To avoid exploratory chewing, gifts containing food items should be placed in a closet. Replace traditional tree stands with an enclosed tree stand, or cover the current stand with a tree skirt to lessen the likelihood of pets drinking the water. Owners with rambunctious pets should secure their trees to a wall using wire or twine. This will help avoid injuries associated with a tree toppling over. Celebrations Can Scare Pets New Years festivities require special planning for pets. Boisterous party activities, noisemakers and fireworks can cause great distress for pets causing them to panic and attempt to escape their surroundings. PSI recommends placing pets in a comfortable and secure room during celebrations. The addition of background noise from a television or radio can help soothe your pets anxiety during these times. Planning ahead for will help keep your pet feeling safe and secure while you are ringing in the new year. *Source: ASPCAs Animal Poison Control Center # # # About PSI Pet Sitters International is the worlds largest educational association for professional pet sitters serving more than 7,400 independent professional pet-sitting businesses in the United States, Canada and abroad. For more information on PSI please visit www.petsit.com.