Tips for Keeping the Holidays Safe for Your Pet

Nothing makes a home more festive than cheerful decorations, flickering candles, sweet treats, food cooking in the oven, and a sparkling Christmas tree. However, many of these items can be very harmful to your pet if they’re ingested, chewed on, or knocked off balance. As a pet owner, you know how easy it is for cats and dogs to get into things they shouldn’t, especially things that are new and shiny and can fit in their mouths.

To plan a safe and enjoyable holiday celebration in your home that your pet can take part in, read on to see what objects are the most dangerous and how to either avoid them or keep them out of your pet’s reach.

Foods and Beverages

  • Meat bones (especially chicken and turkey) – Meat bones can splinter easily when your dog bites into them. Bones can cause choking, intestinal blockage, bowel obstruction, and internal injury. Biting into bones can also cause tooth fractures.
  • Grapes, raisins and currants – These fruits can cause illness and renal failure if consumed in large enough quantities.
  • Garlic, onions, chives and leeks – All of these foods are toxic for cats and dogs, though garlic is much more toxic for cats than it is for dogs.
  • Chocolate (dark, 100% cocoa, baker’s chocolate) – The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fever, rapid breathing, seizures, and potentially even cardiac failure.
  • Sugar-free sweets and candies containing the toxic ingredient xylitol.
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Decorations and Gift Wrapping

  • Ribbon, string, and twine – If swallowed, these items can cause choking and bowel obstruction, and even get wound around the intestines, which could be fatal if not brought to a veterinarian’s attention right away.
  • Electrical cords and strands of lights – Loose bulbs from twinkle lights are tiny and can easily be swallowed, and electrical cords, if chewed, can electrocute your pet or start a fire. If possible, invest in electrical cord covers, or keep them in place your pet can’t easily reach.
  • Candles/open flames – Avoid leaving lit candles where your pet can accidentally knock them over or get burned. In fact, you might want to go with artificial candles instead. They’re more expensive than regular candles, but they also last much longer and are not a fire hazard.
  • Glass ornaments – If broken, the glass can cut your pet’s feet or cause internal injury if ingested. Keep glass ornaments up on the higher branches.
  • Liquid potpourri – Not exactly a decoration, but this substance can make your cat very ill if they happen to ingest it. It can cause vomiting, lethargy, dehydration, trouble swallowing, and even organ damage.
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  • Poinsettias – These plants are not as harmful as some claim, but they can cause mild vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling if ingested. Feel free to decorate your home with these beautiful plants, but keep them up out of your pet’s reach.
  • Mistletoe and holly – Slightly more toxic than Poinsettias, these plants can cause intestinal upset, abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. If these plants are consumed in large amounts, they can cause seizures and even death. We would suggest keeping these items out of your home altogether, if possible.
  • Pine/Christmas trees – Pine can be toxic for pets, and the oils produced by fir trees can cause irritation of the mouth and stomach. Pine needles can cause choking, irritation of the gastrointestinal system, and even puncture injuries. Keep the tree water covered as well, as the sap, bacteria and preservatives mixed in can cause severe illness.