Christmas Dangers for Pets: What to Look Out For

Christmas can be an extra special time for people and their pets. You might even be planning to bring in a brand new Christmas puppy or kitten to share your holiday cheer.

Key takeaways:
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    Christmas can be fun for your pet, but it can also be dangerous.
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    Many foods, plants, decorations, and even outdoor winter items can be potential Christmas pet hazards.
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    Keep an eye on your pet to make sure they don't eat anything that could hurt them.
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    Consider keeping outdoor pets inside to avoid grit burn and antifreeze poisoning.

However, if you have a furry friend around your house this holiday season, there are a few Christmas pet dangers to look out for. Especially since many emergency vet clinics are closed during the holidays.

Pet dangers you should be aware of

Did you know some of your favorite things about the holidays could be Christmas pet hazards?

Pets are exposed to all sorts of frights, including your lovely Christmas tree. From foods like minced pie, to plants and flowers, and holiday decor, here are a few ways to protect the animals you love this Christmas.

1. Food

You may want to think twice before giving your pet a taste of your holiday meal. While every pet is unique, there are a few definite “no-nos” when it comes to Christmas feasts.

For one, never give your Christmas pets desserts with nutmeg—it's toxic. Foods heavy in garlic and onion are, too. Fatty meals like Christmas ham or turkey are okay in moderation, but too much can cause pancreatitis in dogs.

As a general rule, ASCAP recommends keeping sweets away from your pets—even during the holidays.


Fruitcake and guinea pigs don’t mix, and should be avoided. But fruitcake is not good for other pets either.

Many dried fruits like sultanas, grapes, and raisins are very bad for your dogs’ kidneys. And if you've ever wondered, “can cats eat sultanas?” The answer is no. Cats can have trouble digesting them, too.


Gravy is full of onions, garlic, and many spices that no pet should have. While they’re safe for us, fatty rich sauces like gravy can be tough on your pet’s stomach.

Mince pie

Have you ever wondered, “are mince pies bad for dogs?” The answer is yes. While the meat in these pies might be fine, minced pies tend to include other ingredients like raisins that are dangerous to your pet.

Before you google, “what to do if dog eats mince pie,” call your vet. Even if your dog seems fine, you should get them checked out as soon as possible.

2. Plants

Many may have already Googled, “are Christmas trees poisonous to dogs?” But did you know there are several other plants your pets should avoid? Here we've listed 5 of the most common plants you’ll find during the holidays.


While evergreen trees are usually non-toxic to pets, the needles may cause nausea or diarrhea when digested.


Juniper berries are poisonous for dogs and can cause abdominal pain for cats.


If eaten, amaryllis, chrysanthemums and azaleas can all cause severe stomach problems for your cat or dog. Many types of lilies are even more dangerous. Ingesting them can cause liver failure or even death.


Make sure your pets don’t eat holly. It can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.


Luckily this décor is typically out of reach for most pets, but if ingested it can cause heart and stomach problems.

3. Decorations

Holiday decorations are fun to put up and nice to look at, but they may not be great for your pets. Christmas pet dangers can be all over your house, especially if your furry friend is quite curious, so be sure to keep an eye out.

Artificial trees

Even though these trees aren’t real, they can still cause stomach problems depending on what they are made of.

Christmas lights

Your pet may suffer an electric shock or mouth burns if they chew on the electrical cords from your holiday lights.


Cats love to sparkly things, but try to keep them away from these. Though they may not mean to swallow tinsel, it happens. Swallowing tinsel can lead to severe vomiting, dehydration, and even surgery.

4. Outdoor dangers

Christmas pet dangers aren’t just found inside the house. This is especially true for your dog or cat who might spend a lot of time outside. While you may prefer to de-ice your driveway for holiday guests, keep in mind that antifreeze chemicals could cause grit burn for dog and cat paws.

Also, antifreeze poisoning, if consumed, can be quite deadly for your cat or dog. Seizures, excessive urination and vomiting are all symptoms for antifreeze poisoning. If you suspect your pet may have antifreeze poisoning, make sure to get them to the emergency vet clinic as soon as you can.

How to keep your pet safe this Christmas

Christmas pet dangers can be scary and nerve-wracking, but there are things you can do to avoid any problems for your pet this holiday season.

Keep an eye on your pet. Many of the items your pet should avoid are only dangerous if ingested, so make sure no flowers, plants or other hazardous items go near their mouth.

Create a Christmas pet area. When you have guests over, try keeping your pet in an enclosed space, away from any potential dangers.

Have a vet on-call. Make sure you have a veterinary professional you can call in case of emergencies. Though many vet clinics are closed around the holidays, there are often one or two places available, if needed.

Don’t overfeed your pet. Some holiday foods, like turkey and chicken, are safe for dogs in small amounts, but only without seasonings.


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