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Holiday Hazards for our Pets


With the holiday season upon us, we will all be busy planning meals, wrapping gifts, traveling or entertaining guests, but it is important to remember the safety of our pets in the meantime. Listed below some of the most common holiday hazards your pet could encounter.

Food Items

Avoid all of the following:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Chocolate of any kind (especially dark, semi-sweet or baker’s)
  • Coffee
  • Sugar-free candy or gum (containing xylitol)
  • Onions, onion powder and garlic
  • Moldy or spoiled food
  • Fatty foods
  • High salt foods
  • Yeast dough
  • Raw or cooked bones

Holiday Plants to Avoid

  • Lilies may be included in holiday flower arrangements and could be deadly to your cat - even just a small amount of pollen. Types of lilies such as Asian, Tiger, Easter, Japanese Snow, Star Gazer and Casa Blanca all have the potential to cause kidney failure in cats.
  • Poinsettias can cause mouth and stomach irritation, and signs such as drooling, vomiting or nausea.
  • Mistletoe has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems and gastrointestinal upset.
  • Holly could cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.


Keep all prescription and over-the-counter medications away from your pet at all times. Pain killers, cold medicine, anti-depressants, blood pressure medicine, vitamins and diet pills are just some medications that can be deadly to pets even in small doses. Remind your holiday guests to store their medications safely as well.

During the holidays your regular veterinarian may have limited office hours. If your pet has a problem, never attempt to medicate your pet with any human prescription or over-the-counter drugs. One regular strength acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be fatal to a cat. Aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve) can also cause bleeding stomach ulcers, liver and kidney damage in both dogs and cats.

Holiday Decorations

  • Christmas tree water – the water may contain fertilizers that could make your pet sick. Stagnant water can also breed bacteria that lead to intestinal upset.
  • Ribbon or tinsel – these may look like fun toys, but if swallowed they could get stuck and cause an intestinal blockage requiring major surgery to relieve.
  • Ornaments – breakable ornaments could have sharp pieces that damage your pet’s gastrointestinal tract if ingested. Some decorative ornaments also have small pieces that can be swallowed and become lodged in the intestines.
  • Lights/Electrical cords – keep cords hidden and out of reach. Your pet could be electrocuted if they chew on a cord.
  • Potpourri – the liquid type of potpourri can be the most problematic. If the liquid is hot, your pet could be burned. Cats may get the liquid on their fur and ingest it during grooming, making them ill.

If you believe your pet has ingested or contacted something potentially toxic, don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

The ASPCA Poison Control Center has a telephone hotline that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year: 1-888-426-4435. Their website is: www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control

Have a safe and happy holiday season!