Holiday Hazards Tips

Keep your pets safe this holiday season!

Here are some of the top hazards to avoid this time of year:


Seasonal toxic plants include mistletoe, poinsettias, holly, many types of lilies, pine boughs, and even the water that leaches from your Christmas trees.  These potential hazards should be kept out of reach of your pets.  Additionally, your Christmas tree should be well anchored so that your dog or cat does not knock it down and get injured or tangled up in the process.


Many holiday decorations can be enticing to your pet and become problematic when swallowed.  These include ribbons, bows, and tinsel.  If you must use ribbons, avoid types that are long and/or contain wire.  Place tinsel high enough on your tree to prevent your pet from reaching it.


Extra electric cords are often used to provide electricity for lights and decorations.  It is best to conceal the cords to prevent chewing and potential electrocution.  Even rabbits and pet rodents are at risk of chewing cords.  Similarly, candles can be dangerous and may pose a fire hazard (we have all seen one or two cats with singed whiskers).  From time to time birds will land on candles and get severely burned with hot wax.  A fireplace can also pose a danger to a curious pet.


Table scraps and sweets are commonly ingested by pets and in many cases can lead to an upset stomach or worse.  Too much rich food can cause serious inflammation of the pancreas and digestive tract, which may be life-threatening.  Remember, chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) is toxic to pets.


Visitors and their accompanying noise and traffic in households can be very stressful to your pet(s).  Keep pets in a quiet part of the house and make sure they have a safe retreat from children and other house guests.  Also be aware that guests may not be as careful as you at keeping doors and gates closed, so make sure your pets are carefully secured within the house or yard.

Hopefully a quick review of these items will keep your pets safe and happy for the holiday season.  Happy holidays!

If you have a veterinary question that you would like to propose for an upcoming edition, please send it to with “ask the vet” in the subject line.

Max Conn, DVM is the owner of Cat & Exotic Care of the CentralCoast, a full service veterinary hospital dedicated to the special needs of cats, birds, reptiles and small mammals.  Cat & Exotic Care is located in PismoCoastPlaza, 565 Five Cities Drive, 805-773-0228.  More information can be found at

Disclaimer: The informational handouts and website links above are for informational purposes only, they are not intended to replace veterinary care.