Holiday Safety

The Holiday Season can be the best time of the year for a pet! There are lots of their favorite people and a whole world of toys, but some things can hurt or even kill your pets.

Holiday Foods:

Holiday foods are wonderful and with a little guidance, your pets can enjoy the tidbits as well. One of the things we forget is the size of our tiny dogs and cats. Feeding a 10 pound cat or dog a big chunk of turkey is the same as humans eating half a turkey! You would most likely get a tummy ache. Same is true for candy or treats.

Candy in moderation is okay. But a Yorkie with one small piece of candy is the same as humans eating a whole bag - it's a lot of sugar! Be cautious, you may cause issues with pancreatits.

Chocolate is toxic to pets and can even be fatal. Chocolate contains Theobromine and Caffeine, which take days to detoxify in animals, if at all. Dark chocolate and Baker's chocolate are the most toxic, while white chocolate is the least toxic. However, it's best to stay away from chocolate candy completely.
  • Foods That Are OK - In Moderation
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Turkey Meat - Minus the skin and bones!
    • Mashed Potatoes
    • Steamed Green Beans
    • Stuffing (No Onions)
    • Corn
    • Canned Pumpkin (before you turn it into a pie)
    • Butternut Squash
    • Chicken Broth (Low Sodium if you have a heart patient)
  • Toxic Food for Both Dogs & Cats
    • Macadamia Nuts - cause neurologic signs
    • Grapes & raisins - cause renal disease in large amounts
    • Onions & garlic - damage red blood cells and cause anemia
    • Nutmeg - causes meurologic signs
    • Sage - causes GI upset
    • Sugar Free products - causes insulin release resulting in hypoglycemia
      • Xylitol - many toxicity reports
    • Alcohol - it does not take much to get alcohol toxicity
    • Turkey or chicken bones - splinter and when swallowed poke through the intestine causing abdominal infections

Holiday Plants:

Poinsettias are very popular plants during the Christmas season. There is a common misconception that poinsettias are highly toxic, but this is not actually true. They are mildly irritating to the skin or stomach, and may sometimes cause diarrhea and vomiting. If your pets eat a poinsettia, expect to treat diarrhea, but don't expect any lasting issues.

Holly can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea while Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Lilies can cause kidney failure in cats.

Real Christmas trees smell great, but the tree water mixed with pine sap can irritate your pet's digestive tract. The tree water can cause nausea or diarrhea.

Gifts and Toys:

  • Problem Toys:
    • Gift wrapping is a great non-toxic toy, but use caution with ribbon and string!
      • String and ribbon make great toys, however, if swallowed, they will drag throughout the intestine and cut through the lining with every turn.
      • Tinsel on trees has the same effect on cats as string & ribbon. The sparkly & shiny "toy" is irresistible so it's best to avoid tinsel all together if you have a house cat.
  • Safe Toys:
    • A ball of gift wrapping paper or paper bags are great fun and cats love them!
    • Dogs, less than 7 months old, are cutting teeth and have a need to chew. The N-Bone® Puppy Teething Rings are a great start for these little guys. We want dogs to know that chew toys are OK and furniture and clothing is not! Large chew bones will help you get that message across. Try the Pressed Rawhide bones or Jones Natural Chews.
    • Nylabone® Big Chews for Big Dogs or Durachew® Bones are safe and durable for the strong jaw chewer. The Nylabone® Puppy Starter Kit includes flavored bones that are a great help with dogs reluctant to use them.
    • Cats love to stalk and pounce as they have hunting instinct. Toys stuffed with catnip and small enough to carry around, but not swallow, make a great gift.
    • Cats will also love playing with a scratching post. Most posts include toys, a perch, and the scratching will keep them off your furniture!
    • Stuffed animals are good, but make sure they are toughly stitched or you will spend New Year's stitching them back up!

Holiday Travel:

Most pets travel well! If you take your pet's bed or kennel with you, they will understand you are staying and that they have a safe place to nap or get out of the way. Once you've arrived, taking them for a short walk around the area and showing them where the bed is set up can ease the anxiety of both your host and your pet. You should also kennel them when you are gone. More than once, we have treated dogs for consuming large amounts of chocolate with the owners were attending Holiday services.

Car Sick:

Ginger snaps and relaxing will usually cure car sickness. Ginger snap cookies work well on dogs and kids. Give one or two depending on their size before the trip, then one every few hours to keep their tummy quiet.

Feeding Away From Home:

Don't over feed and it is the best to under feed for the trip. If they do not eat everything, that is OK - they will pick back up after you return home. Put food down twice a day and add shredded cheese or parmesan cheese to entice them to eat immediately. This avoids keeping food in their dish all day.

Ice Melt/Snow Melt:

Sidewalks or streets with salt or even worse, chemical snow melt, can cause foot irritation and cracking. Pets will also lick it from their paws, which cause mouth burns and GI upset. You should melt ice with salt, not chemical ice melts. Wash their feet and use a topical pad ointment when you see the problem.

Anxiety Pets:

Using calming agents can also help anxiety, but need to be used before the trip. Doc Roy's® DOCILE DOG is naturally formulated to calm the anxious dog. Double the doses for two days, then give them the normal dose until your company is gone and normalcy returns. Calming products help you avoid tranquilizing your pet, but they also help maintain your pet's normal behavior


With a little prevention, you can keep you Holiday season a merry one. Have fun with your family and four-legged friends!

From all of us at Revival

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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