Behavior and Training, Pet Care Basics

Christmas Dangers for Pets

How do I keep my pet safe at Christmas? The holiday season can be the best time of year for pets! They are surrounded by their favorite people and a world of toys. However, before you get caught up in the Christmas fun, you should be aware of the dangers that Christmastime can present to your pet. So, what are holiday hazards for your pet? Let’s take a look:

Poinsettias and Pets

Poinsettias are very popular plants during the Christmas season. There is a common belief that the poinsettia is highly toxic, but this is not actually true. However, it is mildly irritating to the skin or stomach, and may sometimes cause diarrhea and vomiting. If your pet eats poinsettia, expect to treat diarrhea with Doc Roy’s GI Synbiotics and Kaolin Pectin, but don’t expect any lasting issues.

Turkey and Chicken Bones

Turkey and chicken bones fracture when chewed, which make them able to puncture the intestine. This causes a lot of pain, and the infection can escape the intestine into the abdomen. Dogs will require surgery and a long-term antibiotic. Many even die from the resulting infection. At the very least, your pet will have pain and scar tissue. Feel free to give meat bites as treats, but keep the bones away from your pets!

Table Scraps

You should also make sure your pets avoid table scraps. Foods that are fine for us such as onions, garlic and grapes could cause your pet to get an upset stomach.

Can Pets Have Holiday Candy?

Giving a Yorkie one small piece of candy is the same as humans eating a whole bag – it’s a lot of sugar! Be cautious – candy can cause issues with pancreatitis and diabetes. Chocolate is toxic to pets and can even be fatal. The theobromine and caffeine in chocolate can take days to detoxify in animals. Dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are the most toxic, while white chocolate has small amounts of theobromine so toxicity is doubtful. However, it’s best to stay away from candy completely.

The holidays are full of treats and Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in many sugar-free foods, including candy, gum, and some baked goods. It is also found in a few types of peanut butter. Xylitol can cause liver damage and a deadly drop in blood sugar in dogs. Although there is no confirmation that it is dangerous for cats, it is best to keep xylitol away from cats as well.

Ribbon, String and Tinsel

Wrapping paper is a great non-toxic toy, but use caution with ribbon, string and tinsel! These will stretch throughout the intestine and cut through the lining with every corner they turn. These slices are difficult to locate and nearly impossible to seal. Most cases will result in a long-term antibiotic and long-term recovery, and pets can die from the effects on the intestine.

Is Snow Melt Safe for Pets?

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

Holiday Travel With Pets

Holiday travel is easier if you take your pet’s bed or kennel with you. 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 I have treated dogs for consuming large amounts of chocolate when the owners were attending Christmas services.

Holiday Visitors

If you are expecting company over the holidays, make sure your pets are secure with people going in and out of the house. Get them microchipped and make sure that the microchip is registered. If they do escape, having a microchip makes it easier to recover and reunite with your pet.

How Do I Keep My Dog Calm at Christmas?

Is Christmas stressful for dogs? The answer is yes, it can be! Using calming agents can help pets during the extra activity. ThunderEase Calming Collars replicate natural pheromones and provide four weeks of constant calming. Calming products help you avoid tranquilizing your pet, but they also help pet’s maintain normal behavior.

With a little prevention, you can keep your Christmas season a merry one. From all of us at Revival – Wishing you a wonderful holiday season with your family and four-legged friends!

If you need more holiday safety tips for pets, call us at 800.786.4751.

Article originally written by Donald Bramlage, DVM, Revival’s Former Director of Veterinary Services. This article has been updated/reviewed by Dr. Greer.
Holiday Pet Safety

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.