The holidays should be a happy time for you and your pet, not a time for an emergency trip to the vet. Food and decorations that make the holidays so much fun can be dangerous to your pet. Careful planning will help you avoid potential hazards.

Food Related Items

  • Fats, gravies, poultry skin and rich foods can cause pancreatitis, resulting in pain, vomiting, and dehydration.
  • Chocolate can cause severe stomach upsets. If a dog eats enough chocolate, seizures and death may occur.
  • Garbage contains all kinds of hazards such as plastic wrap and bags, bones, 6-pack beverage holders, and pieces of ribbon or tinsel. Keep garbage in an animal-proof container and away from pets.
  • Holiday feasts may leave a lot of bones, but do not feed them to your pet. Smaller bones or bone chips can lodge in the throat, stomach and intestinal tract.

Christmas Trees

  • Place a Christmas tree in a secure stable stand to prevent it from being knocked over.
  • Tree needles can be toxic and cause stomach irritation. Be sure your pet is not chewing on branches or eating fallen needles.
  • Tinsel can cause dangerous intestinal problems.
  • Electric shocks from chewing electric cords or strings of lights can be serious. Spray them with Bitter Apple or use pet proof extension cords that shut off power instantly.
  • Place ornaments that could be swallowed or broken high up on the tree.
  • Decorating trees with food is just asking for problems. Candy canes and popcorn can be enticing to your pet.

Decorations and Wrappings

  • Ribbons and string can cause intestinal obstructions that might require surgery and could cause death. Ribbons around your petís neck may also be dangerous.
  • Adhesives and glues can be toxic and are often attractive to pets.
  • Potpourri contains oils that can be toxic to your pets.

Poisonous Plants

  • Many of the plants that are in the home during the holidays can be poisonous to pets. These include mistletoe, poinsettia, cyclamen, amaryllis, holly and azaleas.


Some pets love visitors and behave very well. Others may be fearful, aggressive, or over-exuberant. Plan for how your pet will react to visitors.

  • A quiet room, with water and food available, will help fearful pets to be more comfortable.
  • For dogs who may not behave or could be aggressive, placing them in a dog kennel or a separate room, using pet gates, having them stay at a friendís house, or boarding them at a vet clinic or a kennel may be safe alternatives.
  • Brushing up on obedience training before the holidays may help a dog that has become a little rusty.
  • Cleaning products get a lot of use as you spiff up the house for visitors, remember many of these products can be toxic.
  • Antifreeze is deadly and attractive to pets. Use caution if you visit or have visitors and use the garage to contain your pet. To prevent a tragedy, use one of the newer types of antifreeze that is labeled non-toxic to animals.

New Pets

  • Do not consider giving an animal as a gift, unless you are sure the person wants one. It is better to give a gift certificate so the person can choose their own pet after the holidays.
  • If you are thinking about getting a pet for yourself, remember that pets need a routine and time to bond with you. With the noise, commotion, and special hazards, the holidays are anything but routine. Think about getting your new pet after the holidays.
  • And, why not make the holiday more enjoyable for homeless pets by donating food, bedding, toys, money or time to your local animal shelter or rescue group?

With all of the holiday festivities, donít forget to relax and spend some quality time with your pet. Your pet will think thatís the best gift of all!