Holiday Pet Health Hazards

Christmas Scene

We all know everyone loves the Holidays, but all those shiny and fun decorations can be deadly to your pet. Take a few minutes and be sure that the Holidays are safe for your pets.

Tinsel, Garland, Ribbon and Other Shiny Fun Things

Tinsel and garland make the Holidays what they are; they are also great fun for kitty to play with. However ingesting these things can cause a blockage in the intestines. If your pet quickly becomes ill for no apparent reason with symptonms including vomiting, diarrhea, depression, belly pain or fever, make a trip to the vet as quickly as possible. Some items may pass on their own, but if you notice a change in your pet’s behavior, make a call to your veterinarian.

Holiday Lights

Decorative lights are another attraction for pets to chew on. Both indoor and outdoor lights should be carefully examined to ensure safety for your pet. Electrical shock may occur from defective cords as well as from pets chewing on cords. Check cords for any signs of bite marks, loose or frayed wires, proximity to the tree’s water supply or evidence of short circuits. Use grounded “3-prong” extension cords and strictly follow manufacturer’s guidelines for light usage.

Electrical shock can cause burns, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, loss of consciousness, and death. Call a veterinarian immediately if your pet has been injured by electrical shock. Treatment will be most effective if begun soon after the shock.


We all know your pet drinks out of the toilet, whose doesn’t? But your puppy or kitty can mistake the Holiday tree water for fresh water, so before you put any additives in the water to keep your tree alive, check the labeling to be sure that it is safe for pets.

The same can happen with liquid potpourri, sure it smells good, but for you pet it looks like just another source of water. The same with your meditation fountain sitting on your desk. Be sure that containers are out of reach or covered properly to keep your pets out.

Holiday Candy

Every pet owner knows chocolate is a big no-no for pets, but your guests might not know any better. Even just a small amount of chocolate can be deadly to a dog or cat. Theobromine is the toxic compound found in chocolate. Signs which may appear within 1 to 4 hours of eating chocolate include:

  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty keeping balance
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Muscle spasms, seizures, coma
  • Death from abnormal heart rhythm

The toxicity of chocolate depends on the amount and type of chocolate ingested:

Source Potential Toxic Dose (44lb dog)
Unsweetened Cocoa 3oz
Baking Chocolate 5oz
Semisweet Chocolate 7oz
Milk Chocolate 20oz

(Thanks to Washington State University for that Information)

If you think your pet has ingested chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately.


Poinsettias, contrary to popular belief are not poisonous to pets. They may however cause mild gastric upset, including vomiting and drooling.


Mistletoe, on the other hand, is highly toxic to pets. Mistletoe can cause vomiting, severe diarrhea, difficult breathing, shock and death within hours of ingestion. If you suspect your pet has ingested mistletoe, call your veterinarian immediately.


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