How To Keep Pets Safe During The Holidays

I have a lingering childhood memory of my friend’s cat—specifically of the sparkly tinsel hanging from his butt one Christmas. When I tried to pull it out my friend’s older brother shrieked, “Stop! You’ll pull his intestines out!!” I was horrified. 

Later that winter when I was tugging on a ribbon in search of a coin in the money cake my mom made for my birthday, all I could think of was yanking out a string of cake covered cat intestines. 

Nobody cherishes memories based on separating Fluffy from his innards, so here are some tips for keeping your furry family members safe and alive over the holidays.

  • Candy can cause gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea, while chocolate and xylitol (found in sugar-free candy and gum) are potentially deadly.
  • Rich holiday foods can cause stomach upset or even pancreatitis. A little bit of lean meat is fine, but offer sparingly (and not directly from the table. Ya, I’m looking at you Grandpa!).
  • Foods with raw eggs and undercooked poultry may contain salmonella bacteria.
  • Onions and garlic can be toxic to pets. Plus, my dog’s breath is already bad enough.
  • Bones from your holiday meal can cause obstructions and perforate the intestines. Oh god, intestines again.
  • Other potentially harmful foods include: apricots, avocado, alcohol, caffeine, cherries, currants, raisins, grapes, and mushrooms.
  • Keep your kitchen trash secure and take it out at the end of the day to prevent “Sniffy” from ingesting something harmful.

Poinsettia plants are mildly poisonous—leaves and sap can cause drooling and intestinal upset. (P.S. So can drinking four glasses of wine on an empty stomach. Or so I’ve heard.) Holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, and lilies are all potentially toxic too so it’s best to use faux versions of these plants if you have pets.


Be mindful of your pet’s access to ornaments, decorative lights, wires and of course…tinsel. “Dangly and sparkly” is irresistible to curious cats and can create a tangling, suffocating, choking, or electrical shock hazard.

Best of the season fur-ends! May your holidays with Socks and Spike be filled with peppermint “bark” and warm “felines.”

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