As your thoughts turn to the holidays and the changes you might like to make in your house, keep your pet's safety in mind. Although kittens and puppies are definitely the most likely to get into trouble; especially if they are young and haven't lived through a holiday season yet, even adult dogs and cats will investigate new decorations in the house. Foods Your Pets Shouldn't Have Chocolate has been well publicized as toxic to pets but you may not know that it only takes eight ounces of dark chocolate to kill a small dog. Cats, for the most part, are not as attracted to chocolate as they don't have the taste receptors to sweets that people and dogs have, but chocolate is just as deadly to cats should the cat eat any. Dogs are attracted to sweets and this can have some serious consequences. If you have eggnog with alcohol in it, perhaps for a party, make sure all the leftover glasses are picked up. A dog who licks up the leftovers could suffer from potentially life-threatening alcohol poisoning. Other foods that can cause problems for dogs and cats include raw or cooked bones from meats (including the Christmas goose), grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and garbage. Candles and Fire If you enjoy the sight, smell and warmth of candles, just be careful with them and make sure you put out the flame when you leave the room. A kitten or cat dashing past a candle can knock it over, starting a fire. A dog investigating the candle can burn its nose. You might want to consider a candle substitute instead. Many of these create a flickering light which looks just like a candle, yet do not create a fire hazard as real candles do. A fire in the fireplace can also be a problem, especially for nosy puppies and kittens. Make sure your fireplace screen is tight to the fireplace with no gaps where a puppy or kitten could squeeze in. Holiday Decorations Before you begin decorating your house for the holidays, just keep your pet's safety in mind. Any long, flowing strings (such as tinsel on the Christmas tree) will attract a kitten or cat's attention and if the cat ingests any of the strings, it can cause life threatening problems in the intestinal tract. Make sure electrical cords are tucked safely away and that the holiday tree is well anchored. If you put preservative in the tree's water, keep the tree stand well covered so your pet doesn't drink the treated water. Mistletoe and holly are poisonous to pets so use them outside, or inside keep them out of your pet's reach and quickly pick up any fallen berries or leaves. This time of year is great fun. We get together with family and friends and we relax from the stresses we normally face. However, it is important to keep our four legged family safe, too. So take care as you begin your holiday decorations, and even your pets will have Happy Holidays! Liz Palika is the award winning author of more than 50 books. Her latest is "The Howell Book of Dogs" (Wiley & Sons). She has also been published in Dog World, Dog Fancy, AKCGazette, Newsweek, and TheSaturday Evening Post. For more on her work, go to www.lizpalika.com. Palika is also a certified dog trainer and behavioral consultant. See www.kindredspiritsk9.com.