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Pet Holiday Hazards

Pet Holiday Hazards


How I love the holidays! Despite the cold weather, this is one of my favorite times of year. I love getting together with family and having great conversations and lots of laughs. But this season also comes with holiday hazards for our pets.

As much as I try to guard against hazards in my own house, my dog, Charlie, ate the Christmas advent calendar that was made of chocolate! Needless to say, that was not a fun holiday night in our house. I have put together a list of the most common holiday hazards that you can help to prevent in your own house.


Chocolate is one of the most highly-reported toxicities for pets. During the holidays, there are so many sweet treats around. Pets do not know they are toxic and often love the taste of chocolate. Chocolate toxicity depends on how much pets ingest, how big they are and what type of chocolate they eat.

The signs that your pet has chocolate toxicity range from vomiting and diarrhea to erratic heart rate and even death. Remember: place chocolate in sealed containers and away from your pet. Talk to every member of your family about the dangers of chocolate, especially children. Show them the sealed container where the chocolate goes and where to keep the container so that the pet can’t reach it.


I love to decorate my house for the holidays! Unfortunately, many decorations can be a threat to pets. Tinsel is often shiny and string-like and cats can’t often resist. If you own a cat, tinsel is not a good option to decorate your Christmas tree. Speaking of Christmas trees, make sure your tree is anchored down well and can’t tip over. Don’t let your pet drink the water if you have a live tree. This can harbor bacteria and make your pet sick.


We generally think of Fourth of July as the noisy holiday that bothers our pets. But the holidays usually bring more traffic to your house. This means more door bells and more noises to your pet. On New Year’s Eve, there can be horns and lots of laughter and yelling. All of these things can scare your pet and cause them to be aggressive.

Make sure your pet has a safe place to go during the commotion. Talk to your veterinarian if your dog has anxiety with noises or is scared easily. There are products and medications designed to help ease their stress.


Xylitol is a common ingredient in sugar-free gum, peanut butter and other baked goods. Xylitol can cause low blood sugar and liver failure in pets. Remember to check the list of ingredients in food and if it contains xylitol, keep it away from pets.


Poinsettias aren't as toxic as most people think but mistletoe and holly are really bad. If a dog or cat eats these plants, it can have vomiting, diarrhea and/or heart arrythmias. Other plants such as corn stalks can cause intestinal blockage as can pumpkins.


Just because you know what is best for your pet, doesn’t mean aunt Mary does! Guests may think they are helping or being nice to a pet by offering their leftovers - which can lead to pancreatitis. Or your cousin’s new little toddler, Johnny, could think that the dog loves being chased down into a corner and hugged.

Remember, pets need to feel safe. You need to be their advocate for the holidays! Tell visitors in advance that you have pets. Explain what the rules and boundaries are to keep them safe.

Hopefully, these tips will help you plan ahead. Remember accidents can and do happen so if any problems arise, please call your veterinarian.