Georgetown Animal Services

Pet Precautions for the Holiday Season

Happy Holidays aren’t always happy times for our canine and feline friends.  Many of the holiday traditions can be dangerous to our pets.  Some of these dangers are obvious and others not so obvious.  The best gift you can give your pets is to keep them away from unhealthy foods, dangerous decorations and holiday plants and trimmings that may be toxic or otherwise harmful to your pets.

Dangerous substances:

  • Holiday foods that we love can be unhealthy for our companion animals.  Any change in your pet’s diet may give them diarrhea.
  • Sage may taste great in dressing but even a small amount can be harmful to cats.
  • Chocolate can be dangerous to dogs and cats – don’t give them even a small taste.
  • Keep your pets out of the garbage.  Turkey bones can splinter and cause vomiting and intestinal blockage.  Greasy and fatty foods can cause stomach troubles.
  • Pets and alcohol don’t mix – keep alcoholic drinks away from your pets.  If you pet ingests alcohol, they may become weak and disoriented and could even go into a coma.
  • Many holiday plants could hurt your pets.  Lilies can cause kidney failure in cats.  Holly can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.  Ingested mistletoe can lead to cardiovascular problems.
  • Buying your pets a holiday gift – don’t get a habitually-chewing dog a stuffed animal that they might chew up and swallow.  If you give your cat a toy with a ribbon, make sure they are supervised when they play with it.


Dangerous situations:
  • Cats climb trees – so make sure your Christmas tree is secured to a wall or the ceiling.
  • Christmas lights are festive but may attract curious pets.  Make sure your Christmas light cords are taped to the floor or wall to prevent your pet from chewing the cords.
  • Tinsel, ribbon, metal hooks, and pine needles can all be ingested and obstruct or perforate the intestine.
  • Don’t leave burning candles unattended around your pets.  A flickering flame is attractive, and it only takes a second for a candle to get knocked over.  Curious kittens are especially at risk for getting burned by candle flames.
  • Fireplaces, wood stoves, and portable heaters can be dangerous for pets, too.  Pets’ fur can catch on fire if they are too close to a heat source.  And cats can easily burn their paws by jumping on top of wood stoves and portable heaters.
  • Take extra precautions not to lose your pets during the holidays.  Lots of gatherings and commotion in the household can lead to more chances of your pet escaping out an open door.  Your pet should always wear a collar with identification.  Microchipping your pet will help to get your pet back home to you in the event that they lose their collar and tags.
  • Put away children’s toys after they are opened.  Little plastic pieces, strings, and rubber balls are common causes of choking and intestinal blockages in pets during the holidays.
  • Before your company arrives, make sure your pets have a safe place to retreat to where they can rest and get away from too much commotion.
  • If you are traveling with your pets, make sure they are welcome in your friend’s or relative’s home or in the hotel where you will be staying.  Remember to take your pet’s food, leash, and carrier.


While celebrating the holiday season, remember the pets that are homeless.  Visit and animal shelter, and bring some holiday cheer in the form of pet treats or chew toys.  You will surely enjoy this as much as the animals.  It is also an excellent experience for your children and teaches them to give back to the less fortunate in our society.  And lastly, don’t know what to give the animal lover in your family?  Make a monetary donation to an animal shelter or rescue group in that person’s name or in memory of a beloved pet or loved one.

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