14 Holiday Hazards for Your Pet

'Tis the season for some fun holiday cheer but nothing can spoil it like an emergency trip to the veterinary clinic. It’s easy to get swept up in the festivities of the season, but don’t forget that added fun means added risks for your furry family members. We’ve got some of the potential hazards to watch out for so your pets remain safe during the holidays.



  • Turkey & Turkey Bones – Sometimes even small amounts of turkey and turkey skin can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. Ingesting turkey bones is also dangerous because of how easy they can splinter into sharp pieces. The splinters can get lodged in a pet’s throat or intestines causing punctures or blockages. Make sure your turkeys are out of reach and secure any garbage bags that have food scraps in them!

  • Chocolate & Other Sweets – here are DoveLewis, we always see an increase in animals suffering from chocolate toxicity over the holidays. Most sweets are often too rich for pets but in general, it is best to keep all food, especially food that contains chocolate, out of reach of animals. The artificial sweetener called xylitol – commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods – can also be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats. Keep an eye out for your pets during food prep and feasts!

  • Alcohol – Most alcohol consumption by animals occurs as a result of drinking from unattended glasses, but it can happen because of raw bread dough. The yeast in the dough ferments in their stomach which releases alcohol ethanol. Alcohol consumption is incredibly dangerous causing vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma, central nervous system issues, and even death in pets.

  • Table Scraps – including gravy and meat fat –also should be kept away from pets. Many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets, including onions, raisins, and grapes. During the holidays, when our diets turn to decadent foods, table scraps can be especially fattening and hard for animals to digest and can cause pancreatitis.


  • Christmas Tree Water – Some trees are treated with chemicals that can seep into the Christmas tree water. Stagnant tree water can also build up bacteria over time, which is harmful if our pets decide to take a drink.

  • Cords from Holiday Lights – Keep wires out of reach or covered. This can help discourage pets, particularly cats, from playing with or chewing them. If tampered with, lights can cause electrical burns and potentially electric shocks that could be deadly.

  • Decorative Plants – Plants like mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias are beautiful this time of year but can cause a range of problems if ingested. This can include vomiting, abdominal pain, cardiovascular problems, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.

  • Candles – While it’s traditional for menorah candles to remain lit for at least half an hour, leaving your pet alone near an open flame is always risky. Kennel your pets during this time or keep a close eye on them. Pets should never be left unsupervised around lit candles.

  • Tinsel and Ribbon – Cats are especially attracted to tinsel and ribbon, which can obstruct the digestive tract and cause severe vomiting and dehydration if ingested. Avoid using tinsel at all if you have a feline family member in the house, and keep ribbon out of reach.

  • Ornaments – Any ornament on the tree is a tempting toy for your pets. Fluffy, sparkly, low to the ground, you name it, your pets will scope it out on the tree. Though not poisonous, many ornaments (especially those made of glass or those with sharp edges) can be dangerous. Hang lightweight glass ornaments near the top of the tree or use shatterproof ornaments.

  • Liquid Potpourri – Cats are particularly attracted to liquid potpourri. But the liquid is hot which can burn their fur and mouths in addition to causing gastrointestinal problems if ingested.


  • New Year's distractions – Confetti, noisy poppers and fireworks are all potential hazards for pets. Confetti can get lodged in a pet’s intestines if ingested. Noisy poppers can scare pets and might do damage to sensitive ears. And fireworks scare many animals causing them to run if they escape. Keep them secured and safe around midnight.
  • Houseguests – Stress from visiting relatives and friends, as well as an altered schedule, can manifest in a variety of ways, including vomiting and gastrointestinal issues. Create a “safe, quiet zone” for your pets where they can retreat until the activity of the holidays is over. 

  • Watch the exits - Even if your pets are comfortable around guests, watch them closely, especially when people are coming and going from your home. While you're welcoming guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost. Be sure your pet’s microchip is updated just in case, and use the DoveLewis online Lost and Found Database, if necessary.


If you believe that your animal is ill or may have ingested a toxic substance, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435. If you're worried about your pet and your veterinarian is unavailable during the holiday, call us at 503-228-7281 for help. DoveLewis is open  24/7, every day of the year.




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