Holiday tips for dogs & cats

Avoid these 8 holiday hazards to keep your spirits bright this holiday season.

While unexpected illnesses and injuries can happen at any time during the year, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season brings with it potential problems to your pet's health and happiness. Keep reading to learn about a few pet concerns to keep in mind as we head into the holiday season.

A cat sits under a Christmas tree

Christmas tree

It doesn’t take much for a climbing cat or excited dog to knock your Christmas tree over, so make sure to secure your tree. To prevent Christmastime calamity, be mindful of:

  • Tree water – Use a tight-fitting tree skirt to restrict your pet’s access to the tree’s water because it can be harmful to drink, and can contribute to a tipped tree. If you choose to add chemicals to the tree’s water to keep it fresh longer, make sure the label says it is safe for pets.
  • Tinsel – Pets love the shiny excitement that is tinsel, especially cats. Keep tinsel out of reach of both cats and dogs because it can cause serious intestinal obstructions.
  • Ornaments – Hang any small or fragile ornaments high enough that they won’t break with a wag of a tail or swipe of a paw.
  • Pine needles – Clean up fallen pine needles frequently because they can upset your pet’s stomach if consumed.
  • Strings of lights – Keep your pets from chewing on holiday lights by tucking cords out of their reach, or using a grounded three-prong extension cord.
A snowglobe

Snow globes

Snow globes can contain ethylene glycol (antifreeze). If you drop and break one, they can cause a lot of harm, especially to your small dog, puppy, or cat. If they lick up the liquid, immediately go to the closest emergency veterinary hospital!

Mistletoe

Poisonous plants

Decking the halls with boughs of holly (and mistletoe) helps bring the holiday spirit into your home, but if your pet ingests any of these plants, they can get very sick. Keep these holiday plants away from paws’ reach, or opt for artificial plants instead.

Myth busting: While poinsettias are not deadly, they can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

A pug sneaks a gingerbread cookie

Holiday food favorites

It’s best to keep your cat or dog on their regular diet during the holidays. Some popular holiday foods are especially dangerous to your pet. If you want to give your pet a little something special for a holiday meal, mix some pet-safe human food in with their regular meal. Check with your veterinarian for what foods are safe for your pet.

Keep away from pets:

  • Chocolate, candy, sweets
  • Fatty food like gravy
  • Spicy food
  • Cooked bones
  • Alcoholic beverages

Safe for pets to eat:

  • Pumpkin
  • Peanut butter
  • Sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Green beans

Candles

 Keep Menorah and other holiday decorative candles far enough away from pets that they can’t knock them over—no one wants their home to go up in flames during the holidays. You can also choose electric candles instead; many flameless candles flicker just like the real thing, but without the fire risk.

Ringing in the new year

Fireworks, poppers, and champagne make for an exciting New Year celebration for humans, but your pet might feel otherwise. The loud noises can frighten dogs and cats. Keep them relaxed by providing a quiet room with a fan, TV, or music playing to create white noise. Remember to clean up confetti before your pet decides it looks like a good snack and ends
up with an unpleasant stomach issue.

A sleeping cat wears a santa hat

Party guests

Lots of unfamiliar faces and loud talking and laughter can stress out your pet. Exercise your dog beforehand and give them a special chew toy to keep them distracted. If they still seem stressed, put them in a quiet room away from all of the commotion—cats will probably hide all on their own.

Sample claims of holiday related incidents

Claim Breed Date of Occurrence Location Amount
Christmas ornament ingestion Bernese Mountain Dog 12/15/2012 Oregon Trupanion paid: $117.05
Tinsel ingestion Mixed Breed Cat 12/28/2013 Alberta Trupanion paid: $326.70
Tinsel hanging from rectum American Shorthair 12/28/2011 New York Trupanion paid: $288.95
Ribbon ingestion Domestic Shorthair 12/20/2013 New York Trupanion paid: $247.50
Mistletoe ingestion Pomeranian 2/19/2014 California Trupanion paid: $124.29
Turkey bone ingestion Pomeranian 12/26/2011 Alberta Trupanion paid: $190.44