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Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

“Pupper, should you be eating that?” asks the much wiser kitten.

With smart planning, the holidays can be a joyous time for you and your pets

NOTE: I’m reposting this article I wrote way back in 2018 when I started out as a pet sitter.

You don’t have to give up your favorite holiday traditions to keep your pets safe. You just need to be mindful of what can be harmful to them and control their access to those things.

Much like toddlers, pets are attracted to bright lights, shining ornaments and dangling tinsel. Many of these holiday decorations can be hazardous to pets.

Many holiday plants are also poisonous to pets, including the berries of the mistletoe, holly, hibiscus, Christmas roses and poinsettia.

Even the pine tree water from your Christmas tree can poison to your pets.

Nom, nom, nom.

Food is another culprit for some of the most common holiday pet emergencies.

Ensure a happy and safe holiday season for you and your pets by keeping the following foods away from your little fur babies:

Dark and baker’s chocolate: While milk chocolate is not poisonous, it can cause upset stomachs in pets. However, dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate contain high levels of theobromine and caffeine. Animals are extremely sensitive to both and ingesting either type of chocolate can be fatal.

Chocolate gold coins: These treats—sometimes used in Hanukkah and Christmas traditions—need to be kept away from pets. Not only do chocolate coins contain theobromine and caffeine, but the shiny foil wrappers can also cause intestinal issues if digested.

Xylitol. This sugar substitute poisons dogs by causing their blood sugar to rapidly drop. It is treatable but causes liver failure if not treated effectively.

Macadamia nuts. Dogs experience severe weakness in their back legs, appearing paralyzed, after ingesting macadamia nuts. Dogs usually recover from this condition within three days.

Bread dough. When bread dough is ingested it continues to rise which can cause intestinal blockages.

Latkes and sufganiyot. For pets, ingestion of these Hanukkah treats can result in a variety of gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting and diarrhea (definitely not fun at your party). Some ingredients can even have more dangerous consequences. The onions in latkes, for example, can cause Heinz body anemia in both cats and dogs.

If your pet ingests any potentially harmful product, call your vet or a local emergency animal hospital immediately.

Shiny glass ornaments are definitely not for noms!

Wishing you and your pets a safe and joyful holiday season.


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