Safe ways to celebrate with your animals

The holidays are upon us with all their festivities and also all their potential dangers for your furry friends. That’s why we’re sharing these guidelines, which will help you keep your companion animals safe and happy all through the season.

Christmas trees

– Anchor trees securely, so climbing cats and wagging dogs don’t knock them over.

– Place decorations out of paws’ reach and opt for shatterproof or unbreakable ornaments.

– Clean up pine needles frequently, as they are indigestible and toxic to animals.

– Keep tinsel, angel hair, ribbons and garlands out of animals’ reach. These sparkly items are particularly attractive to cats but, if swallowed, can block the intestines and require surgery.

– Prevent your animal from drinking from the tree stand. Preservative chemicals could be harmful and the bacteria that can develop in stagnant water could lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

– Power cords and Christmas lights should be keep inaccessible to animals, especially from chewing puppies and exploring kittens!

Holiday plants

Unfortunately, many favourite holiday plants can be poisonous for your animal. These include mistletoe, hibiscus, poinsettias, several varieties of lilies, ornamental pepper and Christmas rose. Some may cause vomiting and diarrhea, while others may lead to organ failure and death. Ask your veterinarian if you have specific questions, and remember to keep these plants well out of reach, including from birds.

Gifts and toys

– Decorate packages sparingly. Although ribbons and string make your holiday packages look festive, they pose significant dangers to animals if ingested.

– Don’t put ribbons or other decorations around your animal’s neck or on their collars. Although they may look great, decorations are a choking or strangling hazard for your furry friends.

– Choose safe gifts for your animal’s stocking, not small toys or anything with small parts that could be chewed off.


– Don’t give bones. Poultry bones splinter easily and fragments can cause your cat or dog serious injury, like intestinal blockages or lacerations.

– Don’t give your animal chocolate. Though not harmful to humans, chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that can be deadly to cats, dogs and rabbits.

– Don’t share the holiday leftovers, which may give your companion severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals, who have delicate digestive systems and specific nutritional requirements. Avoid rich fatty foods, uncooked meat, fish, poultry and dough, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, tea and coffee as they can cause problems, from digestive upset to organ failure and death.

– Keep all leftover food and garbage out of reach and in closed containers.

– Keep cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, nicotine gum and patches out of the reach, as alcohol and tobacco products can be fatal to animals if ingested. Also empty ashtrays frequently, since cigarette butts contain about 25% of the total nicotine in a cigarette.

– Clean up glasses after holiday parties, since your dog will be attracted by the sweet taste of drinks, especially eggnog.

If you suspect your companion animal has ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency center immediately. The best thing you can do for your companions over the holidays is to keep them on their regular diets and give them special animal treats.

Noise and stress

Shy animals can get stressed with the hustle and bustle of festive guests. Provide your animal with a quiet place to retreat to during busy holiday times. Dogs and especially cats get overwhelmed and over-stimulated, just like kids do. Make sure your companion has a room of their own with fresh water, a few toys and a place to snuggle.

The holidays are both a wonderful and a busy time. In addition to these tips, it’s also very important for your animal’s health and stress level to maintain their normal daily routine as much as possible. Also make sure to spend quality time alone with them every day in this festive period.

We wish you happy and safe holidays to you, your family and your animals!

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