Skip to main content

Holidays and visitors can pose a special challenge to your pets. Discourage well-meaning guests from spoiling pets with extra treats and scraps from the dinner table. Fatty, rich, or spicy foods can cause vomiting and diarrhea and lead to inflammation of the pancreas, which can be life-threatening. Poultry or other soft bones can splinter and damage your pet’s mouth or esophagus.

Hazards Around the Tree

Certain holiday decorations (especially tinsel, ribbons and ornaments) also pose a hazard to pets, so make sure nothing is left on the floor or on tables within reach. String-like items (tinsel, ribbons) can damage your pet’s intestine and could prove fatal if not surgically removed.  Avoid exposure to electric cords because they can electrocute your pet if chewed, and batteries contain corrosives which, if ingested, can cause ulcerations to the mouth and intestines.    

Plants

While poinsettia is not deadly as popular legend would have it, it could still cause an upset stomach if consumed. Holly and mistletoe are more toxic than poinsettias and can cause intestinal upset. Christmas tree water treated with preservatives (including fertilizers) can also cause an upset stomach. Water that is allowed to stagnate in tree stands contains bacteria that, if ingested, could lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  Lilies are extremely toxic/deadly to cats and can cause kidney failure if eaten.

Foods

Many foods are perfectly safe for humans, but could be harmful or potentially deadly to pets. To be safe, keep the following food items out of your pet’s menu: • Coffee grounds • Fatty foods • Tea • Chocolate • Avocado • Alcohol • Yeast dough • Grapes/raisins • Salt • Macadamia nuts • Onions • Garlic •  Any food products containing xylitol (an artificial sweetener)

Medications

Medications that treat human medical conditions can make pets very sick. Never give your pet any medication, including over-the-counter medications, unless directed by your veterinarian. As a rule, all medicines should be tightly closed and stored securely and away from pets. Medications that pose higher risk include: • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen • Acetaminophen (the drug Tylenol) • Cold medicines • Prescription drugs • Diet pills/vitamins • Antihistamines • Antidepressants

Other Winter Hazards

Antifreeze has a pleasant taste therefore it may be enticing to your dog or cat.  Unfortunately, it only takes as little as 1 teaspoon to be deadly to a cat or small dog.  Thoroughly clean up any spills, and store in tightly closed containers and secured cabinets.

Liquid potpourris, wax melters, and candles are popular household fragrances used during the holiday season.  Cats and dogs are commonly exposed by licking, rubbing up against , or knocking them over.  Damage to skin and oral mucosa are possible, but so are fire hazards so please put these items far from anywhere your pets (or their tails) may be. 

Make sure you are using pet safe ice melting products because they can be irritating to feet, skin, and mouth and even cause electrolyte imbalances if ingested.

Rat and mouse killers are used more commonly in winter. Please make sure you have all bait inaccessible to your pets.  It doesn’t take much to cause major life threatening issues.  The rodent poison bromethalin causes deadly swelling on the brain and has no reversal or cure therefore be very cautious when using this product.  If your pet does get into any mouse or rat bait be sure to bring the bag with you so your vet will know what kind it is.     

Despite our best efforts our pets may become poisoned therefore always have your veterinarian’s number and the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) in a convenient location.  If you think your pet ingested something poisonous, seek medical attention immediately.