From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, we celebrate with food, decorations, guests, and fireworks. Each part of the festivities can pose problems for our pets. Let’s take a look at food, décor, and stress and how we can prepare to minimize the chance for problems.


YUM! The whole family loves the food and drink of the holidays. Rich food, toxic foods, and bones we offer our pets, or they ingeniously procure for themselves, can cause mild discomfort to life threatening disease.

Problems veterinarians see more of during holidays due to food:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Foreign Body Blockage of intestine
  • Foreign Body Trauma/Puncture of intestine
  • Dietary Change Diarrhea

Potentially toxic foods: 

  • Chocolate, macadamia nuts, avocado, grapes, raisins 
  • Sweets – especially those with xylitol as a sweetener
  • Alcohol
  • Turkey and chicken skin/fat, beef fat
  • Every type of bone
  • Table scraps
  • Dough (especially yeast based)

Tips: Have your pet’s favorite treats available to give them when the begging begins. take out trash and clear the countertops of food often. If you pet does eat something potentially toxic – seek veterinary care or poison control. Do not try to cause your pet to vomit or give human medications. 


Though the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, with other décor you must beware! As you decorate, think about things from your pet’s point of view. Kitties love to climb trees and chase string. Dogs will drink and eat almost anything. 

Interactions with holiday decorations can be mild mouth and intestinal irritation, to severe vomiting, diarrhea, organ malfunction, tremors, seizures, electrocution, and trauma. Peruse this list of risks before you decorate this season. 

  1. Toxic plants listed from least to most toxic: Christmas cactus, poinsettias, azaleas, amaryllis, Christmas trees and the water additives, holly and berries, yew and berries, mistletoe, daffodils, lilies. Use artificial plants when possible and keep live plants and cuttings out of reach of pets.
  2. Anchor Christmas trees to prevent them from falling. Cover the water in the stand, so pets cannot drink from it. Wrap electric cords with cord covers.
  3. Tinsel and similar décor can cause intestinal blockage requiring surgery. Keep this type of decoration higher up on trees and mantels. 
  4. Candles/Potpourris/essential oils are irritants.
  5. Glass and other fragile ornaments can cause lacerations and mouth and intestinal damage. 


Parties, house guests, fireworks and travel. Fun for us, potentially stressful for pets. 

Our pets need their own quiet, safe, and familiar space amidst our festivities. Water, bedding, food, and familiar toys should be accessible. Keep their environments as consistent as possible. 

  1. Our doors are literally opened to our guests making pet escape more likely. ID tags and microchips are vital ways to find you pet should they escape.
  2. Fear of fireworks and strangers in the home causes anxiety for some pets. Products like thunder shirts or pheromones like feliway can decease anxiety without medications. Some pets need medications for severe anxiety. Contact your veterinarian if needed.
  3. Notify guests you have pets in case the guest has pet allergies. Also let guests know if you pet has allergies to foods.
  4. Some pets act aggressively when put in unfamiliar circumstances. Consider a ‘do not enter’ sign on the door to their quiet place.
  5. Unplug decorations when you leave the house and at bedtime. 
  6. If traveling, plan for refills of medications, update vaccinations, and collecting food and supplies. Keep pets restrained in secured carries or dog seat belts in the car. Consider boarding pets with medical conditions with your veterinarian.  If you are traveling by air -see your veterinarian for a health certificate. 

Make a list and check it twice:

  1. Post reminders to keep food well out of reach and do not feed pet from our plates. If your pet has a food allergy be very specific with your family and friends! 
  2. Post your veterinarian’s and nearest 24/7 Emergency Clinic phone number. 
  3. Post the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline number (a fee may apply) 1-888-426-4435