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Holiday Hazards & Tips for Pets

We are now in the holiday season, which is meant to be joyful and merry everywhere. By participating in our meals and plays, our companion animals—who are also considered members of the family—will be included in the celebrations. We must be careful to protect our pets from dangers like food poisoning, though, as some of the special foods, gift wrappers, decorations, house plants, and flowers that we enjoy are not good for them.

Holiday Cuisine & Meals


During the holiday season, we all relish feasting, and there are numerous safe treats which can be offered to our pets. Many of the classic holiday meals, meanwhile, can be dangerous even in little amounts.



Theobromine, an active ingredient in chocolate, is poisonous to pets and can result in vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, hyperactivity, seizures, and eventually liver failure. Even at comparatively modest levels, it can quickly prove lethal. The toxicity of chocolate increases with its colour. As a result, keep all chocolate out of your pet's reach and avoid leaving any lying around or hanging from the Christmas tree.

Christmas pies and desserts


Dogs can become poisonous from grapes and all of their derivatives, including raisins, currants, and sultanas. Even in extremely little doses, acute renal failure and death can occur due to an unexplained mechanism. Among the potentially dangerous foods are mince pies, chocolate raisins, Christmas cake, and Christmas pudding.



Chewing gum, as well as other goods like toothpaste and mouthwash, often contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol. Dogs have a specific issue with xylitol because it causes a massive production of insulin, which causes blood sugar levels to plummet to extremely low levels. Lethargy, vomiting, and convulsions are among the symptoms, and urgent medical attention is crucial.


Fruits and nuts
Fruits and nuts

Macadamia nuts may result in unpleasant side effects, including fevers, stiffness or lameness, and tremors. Only avoid providing them to your pet completely as this can occur in certain dogs after eating just a tiny amount of nuts. The symptoms are typically relatively moderate, and the majority of dogs recover on their own in a few days. If you suspect your pet may have had access to macadamia nuts, go to your veterinarian immediately since in some circumstances it could be more dangerous.



Leeks, shallots, garlic, and onions are all members of the Allium family. They can be encountered in a variety of holiday dishes, such as stuffing. While they may irritate the stomach, the biggest worry is that they may destroy red blood cells, leading to severe anaemia. Depending on the amount eaten, this effect can not appear for a few days after consumption, but it can still be very harmful. You need to get your pet to the vet right away if they start passing crimson or dark urine after eating onions. Anaemia-related symptoms of poisoning include fatigue, a lack of desire to exercise, and general despair.



Dog and cat eating together
Dog and cat eating together

Overeating is all too common throughout the holiday season, as many people would attest. Being smaller in stature than we are, our pets can readily accumulate what we might see as a few minor titbits. The greatest way to prevent digestive disturbances, bloated tummies, and severe diarrhoea is to limit the number of extra meals and keep alluring food out of reach.



The holiday season is a lovely time to decorate the house, but we must take precautions to keep our pets safe.




Glass ornaments like baubles have the potential to break into sharp pieces that can cause injuries if swallowed or stepped on. Although safer, shatterproof plastic ornaments or fabric tree decorations can cause gastric obstruction if consumed.




The tinsel is sparkling and long, and it resembles a cat toy very nicely. It could be an impediment or a choking hazard if ingested. Always store tinsel safely out of the way or well secured. Sprays that repel pets are also a good option for warding off curious paws!



Christmas lights
Christmas lights

Holiday lights typically pique the interest of animals, especially cats, who may even try to scale the tree in their quest to investigate. The bulbs can burn pets, and if they chew through cables, they can electrocute themselves. They frequently become caught in the cables and panic, which can result in harm. Keep in mind to unplug the lights when not in use, and secure any cables with tape so they are out of the way.



Christmas candles
Christmas candles

Enthusiastic inspection of a lit candle by a pet can be a fire risk, and the flame and hot wax can inflict burns on paws or noses. When lit, candles should never be left unattended; ideally, they should be kept high up or in a secure location.

Festive plants


Although adding greenery to the home can look lovely, many of the festive season's plants can be harmful to animals.




This plant looks vibrant and wonderfully Christmassy, but if eaten, it can irritate the mouth, throat, and stomach lining, resulting in profuse drooling and occasionally vomiting.

Holly and mistletoe



Holly plant with berries
Holly plant with berries

If consumed in excessive numbers, the berries of these two plants can irritate the stomach and perhaps make your pet throw up quite a lot.



Lily plants
Lily plants

Lily plants are extremely harmful to cats and can result in serious sickness if any part of the plant is consumed. Christmastime is a great time for red lilies, but our feline friends should be kept far away from them.

Christmas trees


Pets can encounter a variety of issues with both genuine and fake Christmas trees. Pine needles that fall from real trees can be irritant and pointy. Pets are susceptible to stepping on needles, which can pierce the skin or, if consumed, harm the digestive system. Artificial trees may release minute plastic fragments that, if consumed, could clog the digestive tract. Additionally, preservatives or fake snow can be sprayed on trees, which can be hazardous if chewed or if it leaches into the water at the base of the tree and is subsequently consumed by your pet.

Christmas trees may be enticing toys for animals as well, especially for puppies and kittens. Dogs might jump up at the tree to get the decorations, and cats enjoy climbing. Make sure your tree is safely anchored with a strong base. If there is too much curiosity, it could be necessary to block access to the tree with furniture or a stair gate.

Other risks


Wrapping paper


Even while it can result in mouth stains that can be unsettling to look at, wrapping paper has a low toxin level. It can block the gastrointestinal tract if consumed in excessive quantities.



Cats enjoy playing with tinsel from holiday decorations and wrapping paper ribbons. However, if eaten by cats, ribbon-like playthings can become severely obstructed. Get your cat to the vet right away if you suspect anything strange has been ingested by them.



Potpourri, a mixture of dried petals and spices placed in a bowl to perfume a room, has a strong aroma and may appeal to animals. If consumed, it can result in diarrhoea and vomiting that linger for several days. The majority of the time, symptoms go away on their own within a few days without medical intervention, but some of the essential oils used to fragrance the potpourri might be harmful, so you should always seek guidance from your veterinarian if you have any concerns.



Batteries are frequently bought at this time of year because many Christmas toys and devices require them. Ensure that they are kept out of reach of pets at all times. Corrosive substances that seep from batteries when they are swallowed can severely burn the stomach and intestines. Additionally, batteries could snag themselves someplace in the digestive system, causing blockage symptoms (vomiting and depression).

Measures to follow in an emergency


Now that we are aware of the numerous risks associated with the holidays for pets, it is important to note that during the holidays, some veterinarian practices will be open, but many will be closed. If your regular clinic is closed, go to a nearby practice or any that offers after-hours service including us, as we offer emergency support. You are welcome to call us at any time of day or night. You can always call for guidance if you're unsure of what counts as an emergency. The following holiday risks may necessitate a visit to an after-hours veterinarian:

  1. The consumption of poisonous foods, such as chocolate, rotting food, raisins, or foods with artificial sweeteners

  2. Persistent vomiting that prevents your pet from eating or drinking and leaves them feeling ill

  3. Seizures, continuous twitching of the muscles, or tremors

  4. Battery consumption

  5. Consumption of decorations, tinsel, ribbons, or a lot of wrapping paper

  6. Being around lilies (in cats)

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