Pet Holiday Safety: Things Your Pet Should Avoid This Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year–but can be a dangerous time of year for your pets. While you gather with family and friends this season, remember that holiday treats and decorations can pose a great threat to our four-legged friends. It is always a good idea to have your veterinarian and the nearest emergency clinic’s information on hand and be extra cautious with pets during the holidays.

Pet Holiday Safety: What Your Pet Should Avoid This Holiday Season

Here is a list of things to think twice about this holiday season when thinking about pet holiday safety:

1. Tinsel & Ribbon

Curious cats may want to sneak an early peak by chewing off the ribbon on a wrapped gift, but this can present extreme danger.

Flashback to Christmas Morning ‘08, manually removing tinsel from Riley’s rear end did not make for the jolliest of holidays, but it certainly warned of us of a Christmas Yet-to-Come. Kitty could have had it much worse had the ribbon obstructed any part of her digestive system, which is all the more reason to keep a ribbon free home during the holidays.

Long tinsel or ribbon can seriously obstruct a pet’s digestive system if swallowed, cause infection, and can even be fatal. If you have a particularly naughty pet this year, consider skipping the ribbon.

2. Holiday-Themed Toys

That cute little Santa Claus squeaky toy left in Sparky’s stocking doesn’t look so cute as its remnants are being removed during emergency exploratory surgery on Christmas Day (another true story!) Those adorable holiday stocking stuffers are hard to resist, but they are often made from cheap, destructible material that can be extremely harmful if swallowed.

Even if Sparky made it on the Nice List this year, be sure to tell Mr. Claus to gift safe, durable toys and ALWAYS use owner supervision.

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3. Raisins or Grapes

You may receive a healthier treat this holiday season that contains raisins or grapes (Bah humbug!) Beware that ingestion of these foods can be harmful to a pet’s kidneys and can even lead to kidney failure and death.

This one is not to be messed with, especially because symptoms may not show up for days after it is too late.

4. Chocolate

Calories don’t count during the holidays, right? Us humans are allowed to indulge in holiday chocolate treats, but remember to keep them far out of reach from our pets.

The chemical theobromine is what causes chocolate toxicity in dogs.  Dogs cannot metabolize this as readily as humans.  This allows the chemical to build up to toxic levels in dogs. Ingesting even the smallest amount of chocolate can cause stomach upset, vomit or diarrhea, and excessive panting. If ingested in large amounts, theobromine from chocolate can cause muscle tremors, seizures, internal bleeding, and serious heart problems.

If you plan on baking for the holidays, be especially cautious with dark and baker’s chocolate, as these types can be more toxic than regular milk chocolate.

5. Holiday Plants

Mistletoe, Poinsettia, and Holly, Oh My! Some of the plants we bring home during the holidays can be harmful to our pets. If consumed, these holiday beauties can be toxic to a dog or cat.

Pay attention to cats and holly berries–the effects of ingesting these are comparable to that of caffeine and chocolate. Pine needles can puncture intestines or irritate the esophagus if swallowed.

Look out for everyone this holiday season and keep your tree area tidy and plants out of reach.

6. Lights and Candles

If your pet can reach them, they could be a serious fire hazard if knocked over. Not exactly what they meant when they said making spirits bright.

Keep electrical cords and string lights out of reach, as they can trip pets or electrocute them if chewed.

Consider flameless candles or a room spray to keep your home smelling holiday fresh for the season.