Festive foods and elaborate decorations are the norm this time of year, but the routine is anything but normal for pets. The twinkling tree in the corner, colorful and shiny adornments over doorways, interesting smells coming the dining room table—all can be great distractions and temptations to pets.

Unfortunately, they also can be harmful, even deadly. Even if your holiday plans will be limited to the immediate household this year, it is easy to overlook the need to be vigilant when it comes to curious pets. Take time to review the list of holiday foods and traditions that could pose a hazard to your furry friends.

Turkey dinner

If you plan to treat your pet to a holiday meal, table scraps should be off limits. Turkey, onions and many of the fatty-rich foods we enjoy on the holiday table can be hard for our pets to digest or, worse, may be toxic. Make your pet a separate plate with foods you have cleared with your veterinarian.

Desserts and chocolate

Sweets and baked goods are not only hard to digest, many contain artificial sweeteners that can be harmful to pets. Yeast dough can cause gas and bloating, and chocolate can be extremely toxic, especially to small animals.

Christmas trees

Whether you have dogs or cats, your Christmas tree demands care and vigilance. Excited dogs or curious cats can knock a tree over, especially if your cat likes to climb. Consider anchoring your tree to the wall or ceiling and wiring ornaments to branches to prevent them from being knocked off. You may also want to avoid food-based ornaments and garlands as well as tinsel, which your pet may be tempted to eat, causing illness or intestinal blockage.

For live trees, use clear water only to keep them fresh. Additives such as aspirin or sugar can be harmful to pets who may be tempted to drink it.

Plants and potpourri

Poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, balsam, pine, amaryllis and cedar can be toxic to your pet if he or she eats them. If you plan to decorate with any of these keep them out of reach of your curious cats and dogs. Potpourri in both liquid and solid form also is common during the holidays and should be used with care and supervision as they can be toxic if ingested.

Lights, cords and candles

Children and pets can be attracted to the twinkling, shimmering and glow. Never leave a lit candle unattended in any room. If you are displaying electric lights in windows or on mantels, avoid running excessive extension cords as they are trip hazards and a temptation to pets who like to chew.


If you have questions about pet safety during the holidays, contact our veterinarians. Our team is always available to provide guidance to keep your pet safe through the holiday season.