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9 Holiday Hazards to Keep Away From Your Pets

Written By Shelley Scott

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Along with the joy of the holiday season, it’s important to keep an extra careful eye on your pets through all the hustle and bustle. With all of the extra food, decorations, and gifts lying around, your furry friends could quickly get on Santa’s Naughty List.

Here are 9 holiday hazards to keep away from your pets:

  • Alcohol — Holiday drinks are often made with a dairy base (such as White Russians and eggnog), which is attractive to dogs and cats. But pets should never consume alcohol because it depresses the nervous system and can lead to dangerously low blood pressure, body temperature, and blood sugar levels.
  • Bones — Feeding your dog a bone from Christmas dinner may seem like a natural option. However, bones can be dangerous to pets, causing choking hazards or severe indigestion. And if they splinter, bones may cause further damage to the inside of the stomach and intestines.
  • Candles — Curious pets love to check out these festive decorations, but candles can easily be knocked over and may potentially start a fire. They may also be intrigued by the aromas of the candles and get burned if they get too close. Keep candles away from where your pets can reach them, or consider a battery operated candle as an alternative.
  • Chocolate — A common treat around the holidays is chocolate. Unfortunately, chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats, yet dogs love the smell and taste of it. While we cannot recommend staying away from chocolate altogether, it’s important to hide your chocolate from your animals.
  • Cords — Whether they think cords are toys or food, chewing on them can result in serious injuries for your pets. When decorating this season, consider using cord organizers, tape, or a bitter, pet-friendly cord spray to keep the Christmas Chewers away.
  • Mashed Potatoes — While potatoes are safe for pets to eat, mashed potatoes usually contain butter and milk, which can cause diarrhea for some pets. Additionally, most recipes call for onion, garlic, and chives, which are very toxic to pets.
  • Plants — We often think of Poinsettias as being toxic to pets, but there are also nine other holiday plants that are also toxic: Amaryllis, Azaleas, Chrysanthemums, Evergreen, Holly, Ivy, Juniper, Lilies, and Mistletoe. Avoid these plants, or ensure they are in a place where your pets cannot reach them.
  • Stuffing — A delicious side dish for Christmas is stuffing which is often made with onions, scallions, and garlic, which can cause gastrointestinal irritation and anemia. Cats are more susceptible, but dogs are also at risk if consumed in large amounts. It is best to avoid having your pets lick your plates clean if stuffing is on the menu.
  • Tree Water — Dogs (and even cats) see a bowl of “fresh” water and don’t always know the difference. Evergreens contain harmful chemicals such as bark and sap, which can find its way into the tree’s water. If you have a live Christmas tree, change the water regularly and don’t let your pet drink from the stand.

The holidays are certainly a cause for celebration, but nothing can spoil your good cheer — and bank account — like an emergency trip to the veterinarian.

Stay safe this holiday season and have a Happy New Year!


Read more on the ASPCA website here.

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