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Published: Dec 07, 2012

Hanukkah may be a time to celebrate light and miracles, but it's also a season rife with hazards around the home for your pets. If you are celebrating the Jewish holiday this year, there are several things to look out for to ensure both you and your pets have a happy and healthy Hanukkah.

Nothing puts a damper on the merriment like dog or cat emergencies, so it may be helpful to remember the three F's when it comes to keeping your pet safe this Hanukkah - food, fire and festivities.

Food is one of the best parts of Hanukkah - from potato latkes and doughnuts to lamb and chocolate coins called "gelt." As much as you enjoy this menu, make sure you do not share it with your pets. Onions and garlic are commonly used to make latkes, and these foods are toxic to dogs and cats. Feeding any leftovers to your pets can make them sick because Hanukkah foods tend to be high in fat. If you are enjoying gelt this holiday, make sure you keep these treats in a place where your pets can't get into them, since chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Grapes, raisins, coffee, alcohol and cooked bones are other foods you should keep far away from your pets. 

When eaten in large quantities, these foods may cause toxicity that needs the attention of a veterinarian, but even in small amounts, most of them will cause cat and dog vomiting and diarrhea.

The other hazard that comes with Hanukkah is the very thing we celebrate - light. Menorahs are a Hanukkah staple, but ensure that any open flames are far out of your cat or dog's reach. Curious cats may jump up on the table and the wag of a dog's tail can knock over the candles, so it's a good idea to never leave your menorah (or any other candles) unattended if you have cats and dogs around. If you're worried about the fire hazard, you might want to consider getting an electric menorah this year.

Games, parties and gifts are also crucial elements of Hanukkah. If your family is playing dreidel, make sure the pieces are not so small that pets might snatch one and choke on it. If you are inviting guests over, tell them the rules about feeding your pets.

When opening gifts, paper and bags might be okay to let your cat play with for a while, but make sure you pick up ribbons right away. Strings can be tempting for cats, but if swallowed they can cause obstructions in the organs and lead to a visit to the veterinary hospital.