Holiday Pet-Proofing


The holiday season is upon us again! Among all the decorating, gift purchasing, and food preparation, remember to keep in mind your pet’s safety. As festive and fun as some of them may be, a lot of holiday decorations can pose a danger to your pets. Follow the tips below to ensure your home is pet-proofed this season.

1. O Christmas tree!

Try to keep the lower branches bare, and avoid breakable ornaments, to prevent grabbing, pulling, and broken glass.

2. This water tastes like pine!

For those with real trees, avoid the use of preservatives to keep the water pure for the thirsty, curious pets that may try and drink it.

3. When the weather outside is frightful, keep the fire delightful!

Pets may love sitting by the cozy fireplace, but getting too close and curious can be unsafe. Many pets don’t know when they’ve had enough and can end up dehydrated.

4. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire!

Nuts can be dangerous for pets, possibly causing an obstruction if ingested. Some nuts such as macadamia, are also toxic. 

5. Don't knock the tree while rockin' around it!

Stabilize the tree by placing it in a very heavy clay pot or anchoring it to the nearest wall to prevent it from tipping over when your dog or cat gets too curious or excited.

6. Welcome to Tinsel Town!

Tinsel and ribbon can cause severe damage to a cat’s intestinal tract if swallowed and generally requires surgical removal.

7. Up on the rooftop, who wouldn’t go?

All cats have their favourite spots. Avoid placing decorations in these areas.

8. Deck the halls, but watch the holly!

Although poinsettias should be avoided as they’re an irritant, there are other plants that look lovely but can be dangerous. Lillies are very toxic to cats so keep them away from curious paws. And holly and mistletoe have spiky leaves that can be a little painful if touched the wrong way.

9. Take a detour at candy cane lane!

Popcorn garland and candy canes look great on the tree, but are tempting treats for your dog. Also avoid having edible presents under the tree. Even if the food isn’t toxic your pet might eat the wrapping to get to the goodies.

10. Watch your yuletide cheer!

The holidays are a time to indulge a little, but make sure Fifi stays out of the wine cellar. Alcohol gets absorbed in our pet’s bloodstream and even small amounts can make them seriously ill.* 

11. Pull up your stockings!

Stocking staples such as gum and candies that contain Xylitol and dark chocolate can be unhealthy for your pet. Hang stockings high so they can’t dig into the stocking stuffers.

12. 3 french hens, 2 turtle doves, and … a turkey!

When enjoying your holiday feast, ensure your pet doesn’t get a hold of turkey bones or table scraps that could cause them to choke or get sick. The concentrated fat leftover from the turkey in the roasting can also cause severe gastroenteritis or pancreatitis if ingested. For more information on the possible dangers of feeding table scraps, visit Dr. Chip's Corner.

Resources: Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control center based out of Minneapolis, is available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals that require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. The staff provides treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species. As the most cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline’s fee of $39.00 per incident includes follow-up consultations for the duration of the poison case. Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at