Keep Your Pets Safe

Know Your Holiday Hazards

The holidays are a festive time, but the season brings added dangers for pets. Keep your furry friends away from these items to ensure a merry holiday for all.

Turkey Bones

Even if your dog looks at you with pleading eyes, resist the urge to throw holiday table scraps his way. Rich, fatty foods can cause illness, and ingested turkey bones can splinter and puncture internal organs.

Dangerous for: Leftover food and bones can be harmful to both cats and dogs.
Possible symptoms: Consuming leftover food may cause animals to experience vomiting and diarrhea. Fatty foods can also promote pancreatitis—a potentially dangerous inflammation of the pancreas that produces toxic enzymes and causes illness and dehydration. If swallowed, bones can cause stomach perforation and painful constipation that requires veterinary help.

Sugar-Free Baked Goods

Holiday cookies might look like a tempting treat for Fido, but the artificial sweetener xylitol, found in somesugar-free baked goods, can cause his blood pressure to drop to dangerously low levels.

Dangerous for: Dogs.
Possible symptoms: Vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, seizures, and liver failure may indicate poisoning from xylitol.


Chocolate, which stimulates the nervous system and the heart, should be kept far away from four-legged friends. Although all chocolate should be avoided, dark chocolate poses a greater risk than sweeter varieties, such as milk chocolate.

Dangerous for: Mainly dogs. Cats don’t have the same “sweet tooth” and aren’t as likely to eat dangerous quantities.
Possible symptoms: Consumption of chocolate can cause agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate, tremors, seizures, and even death.

Holiday Plants

Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to pets, poinsettias and Christmas cactus are relatively harmless; if ingested, these plants may cause an irritating reaction in the mouths of dogs and especially cats. Mistletoe and holly, however, can be toxic if ingested. If you have a live tree, consider covering the water in the base. Stagnant water and fertilizers from the tree may cause vomiting if drank.

Dangerous for: Cats and dogs.
Possible symptoms: Mistletoe and holly may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and heart arrhythmia in both cats and dogs.


Fluffy might look thirsty, but keep her away from the punch and egg nog. Pets should never ingest alcoholic beverages because alcohol depresses the nervous system.

Dangerous for: Cats and dogs.
Possible symptoms: Alcohol may cause vomiting, disorientation, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of coordination, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma, and seizures.

Tinsel and Ribbons

These shiny decorations may look pretty, but they can cause serious problems for cats and dogs. Neverwrap tinsel or ribbon around the neck of a pet, no matter how festive it looks—this is a choking hazard.

Dangerous for: Cats and dogs.
Possible effects: If swallowed, tinsel and other decorations like ribbon can cut up the digestive tract and cause intestinal obstruction.

The Holiday Rush

The bustle of the holiday season may be exciting for your family, but constant visitors and activity can be confusing and stressful for pets. Make sure your furry friends have a safe, quiet space to retreat to.

Dangerous for: Stress can have an impact on both cats and dogs. Old or sick pets may be more sensitive to extra activity and a change of routine.
Possible effects: Stress may show up as stomach discomfort, diarrhea, and irritability.


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Habitat Veterinary Hospital
3082 S. Bown Way
Boise, ID 83706
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