Keeping your Pets Safe in the Holidays
The following list is from the American Humane Association
website (www.americanhumane.org). There were many more tips
on the website concerning other holidays, such as Halloween
and Fourth of July, so make sure to check it out!
Holidays bring special cards, gifts decorated with ribbons,
tinsel or yarn, and special decorations like Christmas trees.
Unfortunately, animals appreciate these items, as well --
and many of them can cause serious damage.
- Anchor trees securely. Climbing cats and dogs with
wagging tails can knock over your tree.
- Hang breakable, glass ornaments well out of reach. The
small glass and metal fastenings can be stepped on or
even swallowed by your pet.
- Keep tinsel, ribbons and garland out of pets’ reach,
especially cats that are intrigued by them. These can
become lodged in their intestines, cause obstructions and
lead to surgery or death.
- Clean up pine needles frequently. They can be toxic
when eaten by your pet.
- Prevent your pet from drinking water in the tree stand
if you have added preservative chemicals. These can be
poisonous to pets. Also, stagnant water can contain
bacteria, which may lead to vomiting and diarrhea if
Holiday house plants
Although they add a warm touch, many plants can harm your
pets. Keep these potentially dangerous bloomers well out
- Lilies can be deadly to cats, and many types can
cause cats to have kidney failure.
- Poinsettias, although not as toxic as people often
think, can upset your pet's digestive system.
- Mistletoe, especially the berries, is highly toxic,
can cause stomach upset and has the potential to cause
fatal heart problems.
- Holly can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and
- Certain types of ivy, such as English ivy, can also
cause severe harm.
- Amaryllis can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
- Hibiscus can cause diarrhea.
Lights, candles and fragrance
- Keep lights and extension cords safely secured or
covered to deter chewing, which can lead to electric
shock or even electrocution. Better yet, invest in
pet-proof extension cords, or spray with products such
as Bitter Apple or Chew Stop.
- Candles can be fragrant and enticing to pets. But
they can be a fire hazard if knocked over by an exuberant
pet, and the fumes can be harmful to birds.
- Liquid potpourri and sachets, popular during the
holidays, can be very dangerous. Exposure can cause skin
or oral damage to your pet and may cause illness or death.
Before you give in to those gorgeous, pleading eyes and feed
your pet that leftover turkey leg or Halloween candy bar, be
aware of the harmful and even deadly consequences of feeding
“people” food to any companion animal.One way to reduce this
temptation is to feed your pet before guests arrive, so your
pet will be less likely to beg and steal food. Inform your
guests of the house rules regarding your pet, such as not
feeding him scraps from the table. Also, if your guests smoke,
be extra vigilant and keep nicotine and alcohol out of your
pet’s reach. These can be highly toxic -- even deadly!
Below are some foods that can be harmful to your pet on holidays
- Rich, fatty foods, such as turkey skins or gravy can
cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of a digestive gland,
and can be very painful and serious, leading to
hospitalization. Stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea
can occur if pets consume these items. Limit table scraps,
and let your guests know as well.
- Any kind of bone can tear or obstruct your pet's
intestinal tract. Make certain all bones are disposed of
properly. Poultry bones can be especially dangerous or
even fatal to animals.
- Often used to tie the turkey during roasting, strings
can tie up your pet's insides, too.
- Found in abundance in turkey stuffing, onions are toxic
and can destroy a dog's red blood cells, leading to anemia.
Foods containing high amounts of onion powder should also
- Grapes and raisins are beautiful to look at but harmful
to pets. Keep that cornucopia filled with fresh fruits out
of reach. Grapes especially contain toxins that can cause
- Chocolate -- especially baking chocolate -- can actually
kill your dog, so keep all such goodies well out of reach.
Chocolate can affect the nervous system and cause urinary
system and heart muscle damage in your pet. It also contains
theobromine, which can be especially harmful to dogs if
ingested in large quantities.
- Coffee is also dangerous to animals. Watch out for
grounds and whole beans.
- Nicotine is a stimulant that can increase the heart
rate leading to collapse, and in the worst case, even death.
- Alcoholic beverages should be kept away from animals
- Watch the string that ties up the turkey or roast, as
well as the little red "pop-up" thermometers. Dogs and
cats often eat these tasty things, causing intestinal blockage.
In addition, keep all leftover food out of reach in a closed
container. Any garbage can contain toxins such as e-coli that
can affect your pet's organs. This includes leftover tinfoil
that, when chewed, can obstruct your pet’s intestinal tract.
If you suspect your pet has gotten into a potentially poisonous
substance, call your veterinarian immediately! Have the
telephone number to your local emergency animal hospital readily
available, as well as the number for the national animal
poison control center.
Make the holidays special for your pet
Provide your pet some extra love and attention to let them
know they’re not forgotten during busy holiday times.
- Take your dog for an extra walk -- it’ll help both
you and your pet relieve some of that holiday stress.
- Keep a supply of pet treats handy and reach for one
before you’re tempted to toss your pet that little bite
of “people” food.
- Let your pet get into the gift-giving spirit by making
a donation (e.g., food, litter, toys) to your local
shelter in his name.
- Perhaps your dog would like a new bed, or your cat
a new scratching post. Birds love mirrors or other fun
items for the cage. Get creative!
Enjoy some extra snuggle time. Whichever treat or special
activity you choose, you’ll be enhancing the bond you share
-- and your pet will love it!
Holidays can bring stress to all of us, and pets are no
exception. When routines are disrupted and new activities
occur, your pet may be the first to notice. Follow these
tips to make the holidays more relaxing for everyone,
including your companion animals.
- Shy animals can get stressed with the hustle and
bustle of holiday guests, so provide a quiet room where
your pets can escape the hustle and bustle. Provide
plenty of food and water and let your pet catch up on
- Holiday guests may not know your pets' routines. If
your guests smoke, make sure they are careful with their
cigarettes. Also, let them know in advance whether they
are allowed to give treats to your animals.
- As your holiday visitors come and go, or as
trick-or-treaters come to your door, there will be many
escape opportunities for your pets. Make sure that your
pets always wear identification tags, and watch the door!
- Always keep your veterinarian’s number handy, along
with the number of the animal poison control center, in
case of emergency.