How to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Holidays

| November 20, 2017 | 0 Comments


Sponsored post from Everhart Veterinary Hospital:

Written by Rob Goodman, DVM, owner of Everhart Veterinary Hospital 

The holidays are right around the corner, Santa is watching, this won’t stop your pet from being any less curious or naughty! So we here at Everhart Veterinary Hospital have a few tips to keep your season merry, bright and safe. 

Photo by Hallie Hough; Model: Gino 

There are a few plants that can harm your animal, and their toxicity ranges from mild to severe. The amount of plant consumed determines how sick a pet may become.  

In general, gastrointestinal upset is the most common finding, but if enough plant material is ingested, seizures, coma or death is possible.  


The sap of Poinsettias is considered to be mildly toxic or irritating, and will cause nausea or vomiting, but not death.  

It is better to err on the side of caution, though, and keep pets away from this tempting looking plant. 

A couple of other holiday plants, specifically  Mistletoe  and  Holly, are considered to be moderately too severely toxic, and you should call your veterinarian or poison control center immediately for specific advice. 

Christmas tree

The fir tree oils can irritate the mouth and stomach, causing excessive drooling or vomiting.

The tree needles are not easily digested; possibly causing GI irritation, vomiting, gastrointestinal obstruction or puncture.

Also important is that the water in the base of your Christmas tree contains preservatives and toxins that can be extremely harmful to your pet’s well-being. 

How to tell if you’re animal has eaten a toxic plant

Signs most commonly seen with toxic plant ingestion relate to the gastrointestinal tract: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sometimes excessive salivation (drooling).

In some cases, such as holly berry ingestion, tremors or seizures may be seen, followed by coma and death. 

Holiday Tinsel and Ornaments 

Tinsel, while not toxic, is very attractive to pets. The shiny, dangling decoration reflects light and can move in the slightest draft — appearing to come alive to watchful critters. 

The problem with tinsel is that once it’s consumed, it can cause serious injury to your pet, and could actually be fatal as it twists and bunches inside your pet’s intestines. Immediate veterinary care is required. 

Holiday Lighting

Twinkling, shiny and dangling holiday lights may be another source of danger to your curious pets.

Electrical shock may occur when a pet chomps down on an electrical cord, causing tongue lacerations and possible death. Check your holiday lights for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution. 

Pet Gifts and Treats

When choosing a holiday gift for your special friend, be sure it is safe – no small pieces that could come off and be swallowed.
Choose healthy holiday treats for your dog and give them in moderation.

As with a gift for a human, realize that each pet has their preferences (chewer, ball player, etc.) and some may have health conditions that warrant special attention when deciding on a gift.

Also, it’s best to quickly discard ribbons and bows wrapped around holiday gifts so that your curious companions won’t be enticed to chew or swallow them. 

Foods that may be Dangerous to your Pet 

  • Alcoholic beverages  
  • Candy (particularly chocolate—which is toxic to dogs, cats, and ferrets—and any candy containing the toxic sweetener Xylitol)  
  • Coffee (grounds, beans, and chocolate-covered espresso beans) 
  • Garlic 
  • Grapes  
  • Gum (can cause blockages and sugar free gums may contain the toxic sweetener Xylitol) 
  • Macadamia nuts  
  • Onions and onion powder  
  • Raisins  
  • Salt  
  • Walnuts  
  • Xylitol (artificial sweetener that is toxic to pets) 
  • Yeast dough 

Toys to Avoid

Try to avoid thin or poorly constructed toys, or toys with cardboard parts as they can be a choking hazard. Also to watch out for are toys that resemble everyday objects.

While Fido may love his new toy shaped like a shoe, he won’t understand later on when he gets yelled at for chewing your shoes. 

And let’s not forget those less fortunate! 

Why not make the holidays more enjoyable for homeless pets? Contact your local animal shelter to see if you can donate food, kitty litter, toys, or time. 

With all of the festivities, do not forget to relax and spend some quality time with your pet. Your pet will think that is the best gift of all!

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