Packed full of merriment, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. But, nothing spoils the festivities quite like a trip to an emergency veterinarian for a catastrophe that could have been easily prevented. With all the stress of planning holiday gatherings and extra decorations, guests, food, and treats upsetting the routine in your household, pets can easily get into mischief. Check out our tips to keep your pet safe this holiday season.


The final three months of the year are packed with indulgence. Rich foods cover tables and counters, trick-or-treat bags and stockings are stuffed full of sweet treats, and the holiday pounds can quickly add up. Think you have a hard time resisting all the decadent delights? Your pet does, too! Be sure to place holiday treats out of your pet’s reach, because many of these can cause serious problems for dogs and cats. The most common holiday delicacies hazardous to pets include:

  • Chocolate—A rule to remember: the darker the chocolate, the deadlier it is. Baker’s chocolate contains the most theobromine and caffeine, and just a small amount can be toxic to a cat or dog. Chocolate toxicity can manifest as:
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Fast heart rate
    • Restlessness
    • Muscle tremors
    • Seizures
    • Death
  • Xylitol—A popular substitute for sugar, xylitol is commonly used in baking and is toxic to dogs. If your dog gets into the sugar-free (but xylitol-full!) treats, he may experience vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, seizures, and liver failure.
  • Turkey bones and skin—It’s challenging to resist pleading puppy eyes begging for a bite of turkey, but pets who eat rich or fatty foods can fall victim to pancreatitis. This inflammation of the pancreas can be a life-threatening condition, so stick to pet-friendly snacks and avoid bones and table scraps.


Adorning your home and yard with multi-colored lights, whimsical ornaments, and festive trinkets is a highlight of the holiday season. But, these delightful accessories bring potential risks for your pet. Be sure to keep your fluffy friend away from:

  • Holiday plants—Some people may enjoy hanging around the mistletoe, but be sure to keep your pet away. Mistletoe and holly are two toxic plants commonly seen around the holidays. If consumed by your pet, he might vomit, have diarrhea, and experience heart arrhythmias.
  • Lights and cords—To your pet, a cord is a fun chew toy. But, that chew toy could lead to electrical burns, electrocution, difficulty breathing, seizures, and cardiac arrest.
  • Christmas tree and ornaments—The star of the show, the Christmas tree is chock-full of danger, including breakable glass ornaments and figurines, strings of lights, and fertilized water. On top of all that, it’s also an unstable climbing perch that can topple over when a curious feline attempts to reach the top.
  • Tinsel and ribbons—Ribbons and tinsel, if consumed by your cat, can lead to serious problems in his intestines that could require an emergency surgery.


Spending the holidays with loved ones can be a trying time for anyone, pets included. Amid all the comings and goings of family and friends, pets can easily reach their limit and become overwhelmed. While you’re welcoming guests into your home, your pet may also make a break for it and bolt out an open door. Consider relocating your pet to a safe and comfortable spot, like a crate or bedroom, before opening your front door for those holiday visitors. If family members are celebrating the holidays in your home, help your pet relax by providing:

  • A safe space that’s off limits to people and other pets
  • A cozy bed
  • Interactive puzzle toys
  • Long-lasting treats, such as Kongs stuffed with peanut butter
  • A normal routine
  • Plenty of exercise and attention

Keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible to help him cope with holiday visitors. And, if you’re the holiday visitor and you’re taking your pet with you, be sure to verify that your contact information is up-to-date on his ID tags and microchip registration before traveling. While staying in a strange place, make your pet’s home away from home a bit more comforting by including his favorite toys, bed, and treats.

Following these tips will help your pet end up on Santa’s nice list. But, if he’s a little naughty this year and gets into mischief around the holidays, give us a call at 205-339-5555 and we’ll help bail you out.