Holiday Safety for Pets !

Holiday dog knocked over tree

Hanukkah may be over, but we still have Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve left in 2015! And no matter what you celebrate, the love we have for our pets is a universally celebrated tradition.

Keeping your pets safe over the holidays is easy !

Just being careful with unsafe items and leaving them out of the reach of  curious paws can make all the difference.

Here are a few tips to make sure this holiday season is a happy AND safe one for your pets.

Christmas Hanukkah cats

1) Candles!

Menorah lights, Kinara candles, and Christmas votives are beautiful traditions, but keep them away from the tails and paws of cats and dogs.

Do not put lit candles in the way of roaming curious pets, and make sure to blow out any candles before leaving a room or the house.

The fringe-like fur of a tail can easily burn when swept alongside a lit candle, and a rambunctious dog can easily knock into a candle that is sitting on a low coffee table, causing a tablecloth or rug to catch on fire.

 Christmas poinsettia

2) Holiday Plants

Poinsettias are toxic for pets. So are mistletoe, holly, holly berries, rosemary, and lilies. Lilies can also cause irreversible kidney failure in cats (lily nephrotoxicity).

Almost all holiday-themed plants should be kept far far away from your pets’ mouths.

The degree of toxicity depends on the weight of your pet and the amount of the plant your pet has eaten. If you suspect your pet has ingested an unsafe amount of a holiday plant, take your pet to your veterinarian right away.

Signs of toxic poisoning include vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, seizure, collapse, and unconsciousness.


Christmas cat in tree butt

3) The Tree

The tree ! Whether it’s real or fake, the tree is anything but safe for your pets. Especially for kitties. Kitties looooove to make trouble with the tree.

Keep lights high! Don’t let dogs and cats chew on low-hanging lights and give themselves an electric shock.

Use safe decorations – go for plastic instead of glass, in case the ornaments get knocked off the tree or end up between jaws – Plastic ornaments won’t shatter as easily.

Keep ornaments with string and whispy angel hair out of the reach of your pets as well, to prevent any chance of dangerous string ingestion. Read more about linear foreign body dangers in our previous blog post here.

If your kitties love to climb the tree, make sure to anchor your tree to the wall, or give it a heavy, sturdy base, to prevent the tree from tipping over and hurting your pets or possibly causing damage to your home.

If your tree is REAL – keep cats and dogs away from tree water!

The tree water can contain insecticide, pine resin, and chemicals, everything your cat or dog should not ingest. The pine needles themselves are very dangerous for cats and dogs to digest – they can cause perforations or obstructions in the G.I. tract if ingested, and are toxic.

A couple of tips for keeping pets away from the tree:

  • Put aluminum foil around the base of your tree. The noise will alert you when pets are too close, and the noise itself may scare pets away.
  • Use a tree skirt to cover up tree water and the bottom portion of your tree.
  • Use strong citrus scents around the tree. Cats and dogs may not like these smells and may leave the tree alone because of them.

Christmas Cat Dog eating

4) Holiday Foods

Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, which is toxic to both dogs AND cats.

Grapes and raisins are toxic for cats, dogs, and ferrets as well. Ingestion of grapes and/or raisins can cause acute (immediate) kidney failure in pets.

Excessively fatty foods (such as fat scraps from meats), foods with onions, foods with garlic, and foods with bones should not be given to your pets.

Foods with lots of fats and oils can upset your pets’ digestive systems. Onions and garlic, fresh and in powder form, can cause anemia in cats as well as dogs. Onion and garlic poisoning can have a delayed onset, so if you suspect your pet has ingested them, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Be mindful over the holidays of what leftovers and what treats you give to your pets. We all want our beloved animals to join in on the festivities and to make them feel like they are part of the fun, but let’s do so in a way that will not make them sick or compromise their health.

Christmas dog beer

5) Alcohol and Caffeine

Toxic for your pets! Keep away!

Christmas dogs gum

6) Sugarless Gum and Candy containing Xylitol

Toxic for your pets! Keep away! Most sugarless gum and candy include xylitol as an ingredient.


If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic or poisonous, don’t wait ! Contact a a qualified pet poison hotline immediately, such as the ASPCA animal poison center at 1-888-426-4435.

Or take your pet to a 24-hour hospital ! ASEC (Animal Specialty & Emergency Center) on Sepulveda Blvd and VCA TLC on Santa Monica Blvd are two 24-hour animal hospitals.

Know the symptoms of toxic poisoning: vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, seizure, collapse, and unconsciousness.

Holiday Cat staring at Christmas lights

Happy Holidays from the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital! We hope that no matter what tradition you hold dear, that you celebrate it with loved ones, good fun, good cheer, and lots of warm snuggles.


Photo credits :

Mountain Dog looking guilty in front of the tree photo:

Hanukkah kitty:

Poinsettia photo:

Scott Bauer/Wikimedia Commons

Cat and Dog milk n’ cookies:

Dog with a beer:

Pups with bubblegum:

Kitty in tree photo: