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Holiday Risks for Your Pets

The holiday season is in full swing. While the festivities have us decorating and visiting with family, some of our activities can be a danger to our pets. Decking the halls with boughs of holly could end up in a vet trip. That saved ham bone can be a choking hazard. Here are some risks to keep in mind when celebrating the holidays.


Most people decorate their homes to get into the festive mood. When putting up decorations, make sure all items are out of reach of pets. Some items can harm them.

  • Glass figurines and ornaments can get knocked over and broken, causing cuts and scratches. Place these items on high, stable shelves out of paws reach. Use non-breakable ornaments to decorate your tree. Put the glass ones closer to the top away from those swishing tails.

  • Garland is a great addition to decor, but depending on the material it can cause stomach issues (if ingested) as well pose a risk for getting tangled around your pet. Placing garland higher up is the perfect spot.

  • Light up the house! Electrical cords pose a risk to dogs and cats if your pet is prone to chew. Be sure to hang lights out of reach and keep an eye on your pet around them. If you do notice your pet around the cords, check the wires for any fraying or bite marks.

  • Candles can be a major fire hazard if knocked over. But did you know that many candles are filled with chemicals and scents that can be irritating to your pet? Look for pet friendly scented candles or go with a fake, battery operated version.

  • Tinsel. These shiny strings are a favourite for cats to play with. However, if tinsel is ingested it can cause major intestinal issues and blockages. If you like to use tinsel during the holiday season make sure to keep it in a spot inaccessible by crafty cats.


Flowers are popular during the holiday season and are lovely centerpieces. That being said, there are several species of plants that are toxic to pets.

Poinsettias, holly, and lilies are popular plants that can be extremely poisonous to dogs or cats if ingested. Keep plants on high shelves or areas inaccessible from pets. The sap from poinsettia leaves can cause oral irritation and nausea or vomiting. Lilies are especially toxic that even a large drink from the vase water can cause kidney failure in cats. Check out this list of poisonous plants to see if your centerpiece may harm your animals:


Would it even be the holidays without large amounts of delicious foods and amazing sweets? All these yummy foods are also appealing to our pets but with less savory outcomes.

  • Chocolate is toxic to dogs and the darker the bar, the more affect is has. If your dog has consumed any, check out this handy chocolate toxicity calculator. When it doubt, call your vet.

  • Xylitol is a sweetener found in sugar free gums, other candies and even some peanut butter. This is a very dangerous ingredient that can kill dogs. Small amounts can cause an extreme drop in blood sugar and lead to liver failure. Read the ingredients on all products and keep any chewing gum safe in a drawer.

  • Fatty and salty foods can be an enticing treat for your pet. However, a large intake of fat and salt can have a bad influence on your dog's overall health. Too much fat can induce pancreatitis. A lot of salt could lead to severe dehydration.

  • Small, cooked bones are a major choking hazard. Make sure to properly dispose of all turkey carcasses and ham bones to avoid accidental ingestion. Cooked bones can splinter causing internal damage. Small sized bones may also become lodged in your pet's throat.

  • Onions, garlic, raisins/grapes are all poisonous to pets and can cause major problems. Grapes may cause kidney failure in both cats and dogs if eaten. Keep all sweets, treats, and foods out of reach and never leave any dishes unattended. Here is a list of foods that could be poisonous to your pets:

Cold Weather

Winter is upon us and with that comes plummeting temperatures along with ice and snow. There are some dogs who LOVE the snow and will happily stay outside for a long time. But there are many dogs that can't withstand the cooler weather. Don't leave your dog outside for long periods of time. If they are outside, make sure they have a warm place to go if needed (such as a straw filled dog house). Bring your pet inside if the temperature is cold.

Snow sticking to your dog's paws? Trim the fur on their paws to prevent ice build up between their toes. If you are going for long walks, get your dog booties to wear outside. This will protect their pads from cracking and prevent them from stepping in ice melt. Most sidewalk salt is toxic to dogs and can cause issues if your pet licks their paws after walks.

Another winter danger is anti-freeze. This sweet chemical is enticing to both cats and dogs but may be deadly if ingested. Keep all vehicle chemicals in a safe place and clean up any spills that may occur. Speaking of vehicles, bang on your vehicles hood before starting it. Stray cats may curl up beside engines to stay warm.


The holidays are a festive time filled with amazing food, beautiful decorations, and plenty of sweet treats and drinks. But amidst all the hectic celebrating, it's still important to keep pet safety in mind to ensure a holly, jolly time for all. Happy celebrating!


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