Dangerous Holiday Items for Pets

Dog Safety

November 15, 2018

Dangerous Holiday Items for Pets

The holidays are a busy time of year. We’re often preoccupied with preparations, from decorating to baking. With all the hustle and bustle, it can be easy to forget that the holidays can bring many potential hazards for your pets. Here are a few important dangers to avoid during this hectic holiday season.


  • Grapes – Found in many holiday baked goods, grapes and their dried varieties, currants and raisins, can cause kidney failure and even a very small amount could be toxic to some dogs. Grapes and raisins are also found in many holiday puddings and pies.
  • Chocolate – Chocolate contains theobromine, which dogs do not metabolize well. It can build up in their system and become toxic, causing diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, or even death. The darker the chocolate, the greater the concentration of theobromine and the potential risk.
  • Xylitol – Although it is often found in peanut butter, gum, candy, and other processed foods, this sugar substitute is also frequently used in baked goods to reduce the sugar content. It can cause seizures, severe liver damage, and death if your dog ingests too much.
  • Fatty leftovers – Ingesting too much fat can cause your pup to get pancreatitis, which can cause pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Though typically treatable, it can lead to chronic problems.
  • Bones – Roasted poultry bones, in particular, tend to splinter into sharp pieces that can lodge in your dog’s throat or esophagus, or cause serious trouble in their stomach or intestinal tract. Be careful putting bones in your trash can, too. A motivated dog can often find his way into the garbage.
  • Blue Cheese – This type of cheese contains an ingredient called roquefortine C which dogs are very sensitive to, so be careful where you’re putting those cheese plates.
  • Garlic, chives and onion – All Allium species are poisonous to dogs and these ingredients are found in many foods.

Holiday Decor

  • Poinsettias – Most people have heard that poinsettias are toxic to pets, but they are actually not the most dangerous of holiday decor. If your dog consumes the leaves or petals, rubs or roots around near the plants, it can cause a mild irritation to skin and eyes and gastric upset.
  • Holly – The leaves of Christmas holly are spiny and both leaves and berries contain toxic substances. If ingested, they can cause severe gastric distress, and the sharp spines can damage your dog’s mouth, throat, or digestive system as well.
  • Mistletoe – Most mistletoe is hung high and out of dogs’ reach. Should they happen to get into any, it can cause stomach upset and seizures. In large enough quantities, it can be fatal, so be cautious and consider keeping this holiday tradition out of your home.
  • Christmas trees – Pine needles can cause irritation or puncture damage to your pet’s digestive tract. If you decorate with a live tree and use any type of fertilizer or tree preservative in the water reservoir, this could also be a danger. Water additives can irritate the stomach and cause diarrhea and vomiting if your dog drinks it.
  • Gifts – If placing gifts under the tree, make sure your dog can’t get to them. Especially be careful of any gifts that might contain food items. A box of chocolates under the tree might be a lovely present but could have dire consequences if your pup decides to unwrap it first. Ingested pieces of gift wrap, ribbon, or packaging can also cause intestinal blockages.
  • Menorah – The lovely lights of a menorah can be equally as dangerous if they are set low enough for a wagging tail to hit. An inquisitive dog could get a painful burn if he sniffs too close, as well.
  • Electrical cords – A dog who loves to chew might try to gnaw on the cords of holiday lights. When plugged in, this could be disastrous. Make sure your dog is supervised around holiday displays and that lights are plugged in out of reach when possible.
  • Tinsel – These fun decorations can look a lot like dog toys but can end up blocking intestinal tracks if ingested.
  • Snow globes – Although these are fun and festive, the inside of some can contain antifreeze. Even ingesting a tiny amount can kill a small pet.

If these items are going to be around your house this holiday season, keep your pet safe by gating off the area or by keeping them in their own space so they can still enjoy the holidays with the family. You can even make them their very own holiday pet treat!

With a little extra planning, it’s not hard to keep your pets safe from dangerous holiday items. If you think your pet may have consumed something toxic, please contact your vet immediately.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Enjoy a happy holiday with your pet!