Skip to main content

Fall is in the air and holidays are around the corner! You may be thinking of fall colors, decorating, Christmas shopping and holiday cheer, but don’t forget to give some thought to potential holiday dangers for your pets.

Here is a quick list of things to keep out of reach of pets:

  • Chocolate – although most people know that pets shouldn’t be fed chocolate, be careful to keep it out of reach in case your pet is tempted by the wonderful smell. Dogs especially may help themselves to baking chocolate in a cabinet or a box of chocolates in wrapping paper under the tree.
  • Artificial sweeteners – xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener sometimes used in gum, baked goods and peanut butter can be toxic to pets.
  • Table scraps – fatty table foods like gravy, rich meats, butter and baked goods can cause a life threatening condition known as pancreatitis in sensitive animals.
  • Raisins, macadamia nuts, espresso beans – raisins can lead to kidney failure and macadamia nuts can cause temporary paralysis. Espresso beans contain high amounts of caffeine which can be dangerous to pets.
  • Yeast dough – because dough rises, if eaten raw, it can cause painful bloating and gas in pets.
  • Bones – these have the potential to break apart causing obstructions or intestinal perforations if swallowed. Some can get stuck in the mouth causing pain, panic and bleeding. Bones also have the potential to cause tooth fractures.
  • Fruitcakes soaked in rum – these can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature, potentially leading to seizures and respiratory failure. If a fruitcake contains raisins, this can lead to kidney failure.
  • Decorative lights – strung lights on the tree or light up decorations inside or out can cause serious electrocution and burn hazards when chewed.
  • Candles – lit candles can easily be knocked over causing a fire in seconds. Keep lit candles well out of reach of rambunctious or curious pets or use battery operated candles for safety.
  • Tinsel and ribbon – cats (and some dogs) can be attracted to ribbon and tinsel thinking it is a fun toy. However if swallowed, both can cause life threatening intestinal obstructions.
  • Ornaments – to a playful dog or cat an ornament can look like a tempting toy. Glass ornaments can shatter and cause cuts, and most can cause intestinal obstructions if eaten. It is also a good idea to not decorate your tree with edible things like candy canes or popcorn and cranberries on a string. Any of these can be too tempting for even the best behaved pet.
  • Holiday plants – mistletoe, amaryllis, lillies, holly and balsam can be poisonous to pets. Even 1 to 2 leaves or petals of a lilly can cause severe, acute kidney failure in cats (in dogs they will only cause mild stomach upset). Poinsettias are not toxic, but can cause mild mouth or stomach irritation if eaten.
  • Christmas trees – trees can topple if curious pets think they look like a great climbing place and additives in tree water can be dangerous if swallowed.
  • Potpourris – both liquid and solid potpourris can cause digestive issues if eaten and essential oils in some can cause damage to your pet’s mouth, eyes and skin.

A little planning and awareness can help to make sure that your holiday season is free of pet emergencies!