Christmas Pet Safety

Christmas Pet Safety


Pets encounter many dangers, especially during the holidays.  From choking hazards to poisonous plants to deadly human foods, pets can be harmed by many ordinary, innocent household items.  Let’s look at some holiday pet hazards.



Many people have heard that chocolate, especially baking chocolate, is poisonous to dogs, but many people are unaware that grapes, grape juice, and wine can also poison dogs.  Another innocent holiday staple, holiday plants (like holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, and lilies) can be poisonous as well.  Also, other “people foods” can be harmful to pets in large amounts, such as the following:

  • Fatty meats
  • Gravies
  • Poultry skin
  • Bones
  • Alcohol

These foods can cause serious illnesses, like pancreatitis, and symptoms, like vomiting and diarrhea.  Foods are not the only harmful things pets may ingest during the holidays, though.

Harmful Items


Pets may also ingest items they see as toys, especially cats, kittens and puppies, so pets should be kept away from the following choking hazards:

  • Candy wrappers
  • Aluminum foil pieces
  • Ribbons
  • Tinsel
  • Small pieces to children’s toys
  • Ornaments

Other items can present additional health problems.  Pine needles can puncture your pet’s intestines if ingested.   Tree water can contain fertilizers from the tree and harmful bacteria, and adding aspirin to your tree water can be very harmful to pets.  Candles also provide possible hazards and should always be monitored in houses with pets.  Snow globes can be harmful to pets because many contain antifreeze, which is severely harmful (yet tasty) to pets.

Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree itself offers so many potential dangers that it deserves a closer look.  Beyond the tinsel, ornaments, and water, the Christmas tree cords can look like chew toys.  Taping down or covering cords can help avoid electrocution or burns.  Also, cats often like to climb the tree, so the tree should be anchored to the ceiling to keep it from falling over.  Another safety precaution is to keep pets away from the tree.  The following ideas can help keep animals from the tree:

  • Shock collars with circular range devices.  The device can be placed by the tree, and a range of one to ten feet can be set.  A shock collar can then be placed on the dog’s neck (do not use on cats and small dogs).  When the dog gets too close to the range, a high-pitched warning will sound.  If the dog continues to advance, a shock will be issued.  Through training, dogs learn quickly to retreat at the first sound.
  • Bubble wrap.  Placing bubble wrap by the tree often deters cats.
  • Inverted rubber mat.  A rubber mat placed upside down, with the prickly bottom facing up, will often deter cats as well.
  • Pennies in a can.  Filling a metal can with a few pennies can also act as a deterrent.  When a cat knocks over the can, the rattling noise will often scare the cat away from the tree.

Pets are part of the family, too, and keeping them safe during the holidays is important.  Fortunately, following the above free safety ideas can keep your pet safe from many of the dangers existing in Christmas foods, decorations, toys and trees.

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