Holiday Pet Safety

THE HOLIDAYSthe most wonderful time of the year! It’s the season that entices us with aromas and fragrances and tantalizes our taste buds. It is a time for joy, happiness and merriment. For our pets, though, there are some potential hazards to their health and safety. It is challenging to keep our furry family members safe during the holiday season.


Deck the Halls with boughs of holly – we enjoy making our homes festive by using fresh greens and flowering plants. Unfortunately many of the more popular holiday plants such as poinsettias, mistletoe, holly and amaryllis are either irritating or toxic to cats and dogs. A safer holiday plant is the Christmas cactus which is non toxic to cats and dogs.

And, of course, we can’t forget the traditional Christmas tree:
O Christmas Tree…..How lovely are your branches……. Yes, lovely to look at but pine needles are mildly toxic and can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach. They are not easily digested and can cause GI problems and vomiting. More toxic, however, is the standing water in the tree stand. It contains fertilizers and probably harbors mold and bacteria – a few sips can cause your pet to become extremely sick. Keep the tree stand covered so your pets can’t drink the tree water.

Remember that eating or ingesting any plant material can cause vomiting and other reactions in your pets even if it not considered toxic.


  • Tinsel is so pretty at night when the lights are turned on but if ingested by pets can cause blockages in their intestinal tract. Tinsel, lights and breakable ornaments should not be placed on the lower branches of Christmas trees.
  • Burning candles are beautiful and add ambiance to our holiday atmosphere but should be placed well out of reach of pets such as on a high shelf or mantel. Instead of real candles consider using reusable flameless candles.
  • Snow globes and bubble lights may contain poison chemicals such as antifreeze.
  • Wrapping items such as string, ribbon, yarn can cause serious problems if swallowed by pets.


For many people, chocolate is an important “food” for the holidays. It is, however, toxic to dogs and cats. Grapes and raisins, and currants can result in kidney failure in dogs. The artificial sweetener, xylitol, is present in some gums, breath mints, candy, and other human food and is very toxic to dogs. Turkey and turkey skin, and table scraps can be especially difficult for pets to digest and may cause pancreatitis.

It is important to put food preparation items and leftover food away immediately – dogs have a keen sense of smell; the smells coming from leftovers and the trash can are tempting to our pets. Foil, plastic wrap, bags can cause choking or intestinal obstruction if ingested by our pets. Turkey carcasses make excellent soup broth but the bones can splinter and puncture their digestive tract.

Keep the holidays safe for your furry family and friends by being careful of potential problems and hazards.

Wishing you a joyful and safe holiday season!

Two excellent resources:


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