Dear Daisy Dog: This year during Hanukkah, we plan to give our children a puppy. Are there any special precautions we should take to keep the puppy safe during the festivities?

Daisy responds: During each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, or Festival of Lights, as you light the candles of your menorah to celebrate the miracle that a one-day supply of sacred oil lasted for eight days, keep your puppy's nose and tail away from the flames. You don't want your new pup to singe his fur or knock over a candle and start a fire.

When your children play with their dreidel, the puppy will be mesmerized. Don't let him get so close to the spinning top that he snaps it up and swallows it, or he may need surgery to remove it from his intestines.

In addition, your pup must not eat the chocolate gelt, because chocolate is toxic to dogs. Let your children enjoy their chocolate coins away from the new puppy.

As you commemorate Hanukkah by eating foods cooked in oil, such as potato pancakes and jelly donuts, remember that such foods can cause vomiting, diarrhea and painful pancreatitis in dogs. The onions in potato pancakes also are harmful to dogs. So make sure everyone knows that their new family member may eat only his puppy food.

When it's time for bed, or any time you can't supervise the puppy, invite him to rest inside his kennel. Be sure no gift wrappings or ribbons are close enough for him to pull them inside.

If all this sounds like more than your family can manage over the holiday, give your children a dog training book and a gift certificate to puppy kindergarten training, and bring your new pup home after Hanukkah.


Dear Christopher Cat: I live in the country and have indoor-outdoor cats. I know automotive antifreeze is deadly to animals, but people say Sierra is a safe alternative. Should I replace my car's coolant with Sierra?

Christopher responds: Standard antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, or EG, which is very toxic to cats, dogs, wildlife and children. It's enticing because it tastes sweet, and when outdoor water bowls freeze, puddles of EG antifreeze may be the only liquid available to a thirsty animal. Even a few drops can be fatal to a cat.

A safer antifreeze option is propylene glycol, or PG. No coolant is completely safe, but PG coolants like Sierra and Prestone LowTox are considerably safer than EG. Ask your mechanic about switching to a PG coolant such as Sierra.

Until then, if you ever see a puddle of the telltale yellow-green EG antifreeze, sop it up with paper towels and dispose of it all in a trash bag. Don't hose down the area, as that only spreads the poison, which remains toxic even when diluted.

Ask the Vet's Pets appears Fridays in the print edition of the Reading Eagle. The animal authors of the column live with Lee Pickett, V.M.D., who practices companion animal medicine. Contact them at