Holiday Pet Hazards
With all of the hustle and bustle around the holidays, it’s easy to sometimes forget the extra dangers present during this time of year for our four-legged friends. Here are five common hazards you should be aware of:
- Festive foods. Your kitchen will likely be full of all kinds of candy, cookies, cakes and pies this winter, many of which may contain chocolate, raisins or currants. Desserts with these ingredients can lead to gastrointestinal problems, heart arrhythmia, seizures or even kidney failure. Also resist the urge to give your dog scrap meat and bones as a special treat. Pets’ digestive systems are not made to handle these human foods, and eating them can lead to pancreatitis.
- Liquid potpourri. Scented oils are extremely toxic to cats. Just a few licks can cause chemical burns, fever, tremors or difficulty breathing. Dogs are not as sensitive as cats, but it’s still safer to scent your home with a non-toxic candle, kept out of your pet’s reach, instead.
- Flowers and plants. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias do not pose a great threat to pets, but other common holiday flowers and plants do. Tiger, Asiatic and Stargazer lilies are highly poisonous to cats, and chewing just one leaf can result in severe, acute kidney failure. Holly and mistletoe can also be commonly mistaken for food and cause gastrointestinal upset or heart arrhythmia. Try replacing real plants with silk or plastic varieties, or else stick to nonirritating ones, which include roses, marigolds, orchids and daisies.
- Ornaments and bubble lights. Avoid hanging ornaments and lights at pet-level. Pets can cut their paws and mouths on the glass of broken ornaments or the sharp metal hooks used to hang them. Many holiday lights also contain methylene chloride (which bubbles when heated). This dangerous chemical can cause irritation to your pet’s eyes, skin, lungs and gastrointestinal tract.
- Tinsel. Cat-owners should try to avoid this decoration altogether. Cats almost always mistake tinsel for a toy, and it has the potential to cause severe intestinal damage. Tinsel can get wrapped around a cat’s tongue or stuck in its stomach while the rest of it tries to pass through the intestines, which can necessitate costly abdominal surgery.
If you believe your pet has encountered one of these hazards or ingested something else harmful, call the Pet Poison Helpline immediately at 1-800-213-6680.
Air Travel Tips for 2013
Summer may be long gone and winter fast approaching… but now is the perfect time to begin planning next year’s getaway. While high gas prices and recent airline mergers make it trickier, here are four strategies you can use to steal a deal for your next vacation.
- Call, don’t click. Booking online is actually less effective than calling an agent directly, as websites do not always have the full inventory of available seats. An agent can tell you the availability of partner airline seats as well, potentially finding you a cheaper seat and allowing you to use frequent flyer miles to your best advantage.
- Be creative with alliances and credit cards. Airlines often sell seats on partner airlines at lower prices, in both cash and miles. Try shopping with the partner airline directly and enroll in its award program or transfer frequent flier miles earned from your credit card. Air Canada and its loyalty club, Aeroplan, offer some of today’s best deals, and will let you book trips with other Star Alliance carriers, such as United or U.S. Airways.
- Shop early and often. Airlines typically start booking flights 11 months prior to departure, and mileage seats fluctuate greatly during that period. It’s possible to find a great deal, especially if you keep checking closer to the takeoff date, when airlines open more seats for lower-level awards. If you don’t want to do the hunting yourself, one of the best websites to alert you to awards and upgrade availabilities is ExpertFlyer.com. Its president reports that more than half of alerts result in booking, with an average of 27 days to find the desired seat.
- Funerals, not France. To get the most value out of frequent flier points, use them on last-minute trips instead of planned vacations. Last-minute domestic flights can easily cost as much $600, about the same price as an advance ticket to Paris or Hawaii. Airlines are usually more flexible about changing plans without penalties when you use your miles, which can be especially helpful in emergency situations when you don’t know your return date. Also, late-booking mileage tickets are usually offered at lower rates, making it more economical when you have to fly to sick relatives or send your kids back and forth from college.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Food for Thought
These days, we’re all trying to tighten our budgets, but did you know your eating habits could be a major part of the problem? Michelle Dudash, a registered dietician and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families, offers a few tips to help you eat well while saving on your grocery purchases:
- Weigh cost against nutritional value. Healthy foods may sometimes be more expensive, but they’re packed full of vitamins and minerals that your body needs. You’ll get more value out of your purchases if you stock up on wholesome items, as opposed to buying “cheaper” options that provide little or no nutritional benefit.
- Skip the substitutes. There is little need to buy more costly food substitutes, especially when many don’t contain the same nutritional value as the real deal. Just look for the best price that will deliver the most nutrients.
- Think twice before you gulp. Drinks are often an overlooked part of your food budget. Not only do many of the drinks we enjoy lack nutritional value, they can also be super-expensive. One of the healthiest options—water—is free! If you decide to spring for a beverage, make sure it’s one full of nutrients.
- Take advantage of the seasons. Buy what’s in season to get fruit and vegetables at the lowest cost. Not only can you enjoy them during their peak months, you can also freeze them for future use—allowing you to enjoy their flavors year-round without hurting your wallet.
- Plan ahead. Spontaneity and meal planning don’t mix well. Last-minute dinner decisions can lead to costly stops at the store, while buying on a whim can result in pounds of produce and other perishables being tossed in the trash. Select meals in advance, and always hit the supermarket with a list in hand.
Source: Yahoo Finance/Family Features
A record number of women will be serving in the U.S. Senate beginning in January. The 113th Congress will include 20 female senators, while nearly half of this year’s Senate races saw a female candidate on the ballot. The first woman to serve in the Senate was Rebecca Latimer Felton of Georgia in 1922, while the first woman elected to the Senate was Hattie Caraway of Arkansas in 1932. Five female senators were elected in 1992, dubbed “The Year of the Woman.”
Iranian women are now prohibited from pursuing college majors in engineering, mathematics, chemistry and most petroleum-related subjects at many of the country’s top universities, according to a report in The New York Times. Thirty-six Iranian universities have banned women from 77 fields of study, despite the fact that women make up approximately 60 percent of the country’s undergrads. A senior Iranian education official simply said, “Some fields are not very suitable for women’s nature.”
In love with your new iPhone 5? You might want to invest in a protective case. A study by warranty service provider Square Trade discovered that iPhone customers have spent more than $5.9 billion dollars in repairs since the original iPhone was introduced in 2007. In fact, you are 10 times more likely to accidentally damage your phone than for it to be lost or stolen. iBi