Dangers of Christmas for Pets

As the festive period draws closer, it is good to remind ourselves of the many hazards that our pets might face during the holidays. Many vet clinics see an increase in patients during this time due to unintended accidents or mishaps. In no particular order, these are some of the things to look out for:

  1. Christmas lights. Their attractive twinkling brings about a magical atmosphere, but make sure all the electrical cords are out of reach if you leave your pets unattended. Biting into a cord can cause a severe burn or shock for your animal and could also potentially cause a fire that puts your whole family in danger.
  2. Christmas trees. If you have a real tree, remember that pine needles are not only sharp but also toxic, so don’t let your pets eat them. Ornaments hanging on the tree might seem like the perfect toy for your animal, so hang them out of reach. Plastic, glass and wood ornaments can cause severe cuts and intestinal problems. Also remember to secure your tree properly to avoid injury from a toppling tree.
  3. Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats and is easy to accidently leave lying around. Generally speaking, the darker the chocolate the more toxic it is.
  4. Tinsel. This is especially attractive to cats, but don’t let them eat it as it can cause digestive problems.
  5. It might be tempting to give your dog leftover bones from your meal, but bones can easily get stuck or perforate the intestine.
  6. Poinsettias. This is a popular “Christmas flower”, but it is toxic to pets.
  7. Mince pies and other puddings. Many Christmas puddings are filled with raisins, currants and sultanas, all of which can cause vomiting and kidney failure, so do not give these to your pets.
  8. Fatty foods. We tend to include a lot of fatty items in our Christmas meals, and giving some leftovers to pets is common. But fatty foods can cause a painful and possibly life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas.
  9. House visitors and noise. While some pets enjoy the extra excitement, many animals will find it stressful and become either aggressive or display unusual behavior. Make sure that your pets have a safe area to retreat to if they need it, with plenty of food, shade and water.
  10. In addition to chocolate, do not give your pets macadamia nuts, onion, garlic or blue/creamy cheeses.
  11. Make sure your pets can’t burn themselves or topple them over on any fires or BBQ’s.
  12. Alcohol. It can cause severe liver and brain damage to animals, even in very small doses.
  13. Wrapping paper. Many dogs like to chew on paper, but large amounts of it might cause intestinal blockages.

Having said all that, many pets enjoy the extra attention and having family around, so hopefully this long list does not put you off from having a lovely and relaxing holiday together with all your furry friends!


Article by Dr. Laura Wessman

KSPCA Volunteer





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