Holiday Pet Hazard Checklist

Pets will investigate new items by sniffing, tossing, chasing and finally by having a taste. Holiday season adornments are attractive to all creatures. The ornaments, foods, gifts, wrapping, ribbons, lights and plants are all curiosities for pets. A few precautions will help you avoid the holiday crowds at our hospital.


  • Several decorative plants are poisonous.
  • Mistletoe and holly can cause stomach upset including vomiting and diarrhea. The berries of these plants are attractive, easily swallowed, and potentially fatal if consumed.
  • Poinsettias, like the leaves of most any plant, can also cause stomach upset.
  • Christmas Trees should be secured so that pets cannot pull them over. Omit preservative from the tree stand water. Use a tight-fitting tree skirt to restrict your pet’s access to the tree’s water. Don’t spray snow on the tree unless it is labeled for pet consumption. Clean up fallen pine needles because they can upset your pet’s stomach if consumed.


  • Chocolate is poisonous to cats, dogs and birds.
  • Cooked bones can get stuck in the mouth or perforate the intestinal tract.
  • Scraps from holiday meals and fatty foods like gravy, can cause gastrointestinal upset and even predispose pets to life-threatening pancreatitis.
  • It is best to keep your cat or dog on their regular diet during the holidays. If you want to give your pet something special for a holiday meal, add a little pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots or green beans to their normal diet.


  • Ribbons, icicles, tinsel and strings can damage the intestines and are potentially fatal if consumed.
  • Hang any small or fragile ornaments high enough that they won’t fall off of the tree and break with a wag of a tail or the swipe of a paw.
  • Holiday lights and electrical wires can cause shock or burns when chewed on. Keep your pets from chewing on holiday lights by tucking cords out of their reach or using a grounded three-prong extension cord.
  • Keep holiday decorative candles far enough away from pets to prevent serious burn injuries.


  • Cats enjoy lightweight toys they can bat around. Be sure they are at least 1 inch in diameter without bells, buttons, strings, yarn or squeaky parts that can be detached and swallowed.
  • Dogs enjoy balls, chew toys and things they can carry around. Beware that some dogs tear stuffed toys apart. Stuffing from these toys can cause intestinal blockage and irritation. Small balls can cause choking problems along with intestinal blockage. Snow globes can contain ethylene glycol (antifreeze) and if dropped and broken can cause serious harm to your pet.

If your pet gets sick, call us before giving any medications. Many over the counter drugs, such as Tylenol, are toxic to animals.