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Christmas Hazards for Pets

Christmas Hazards for Pets

At Christmas, we all just want to relax, have fun, and perhaps over indulge in some festive treats. But it’s important we are aware of some hidden dangers that the festive period can pose to our four legged friends.

Watch out for these hazards this Christmas, and be sure to keep your pet safe. 

Toxic food and drink

Raisins, sultanas and currants are poisonous to dogs and cats – keep the mince pies, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake out of their reach.

Chocolate is dangerous too, as it contains a toxic chemical called theobromine. Many sweets contain the artificial sweetener, xylitol, which is poisonous. Never feed your pet chocolate or sweets, and avoid putting any edible gifts under the tree – they will soon sniff them out!

Alcohol and caffeinated drinks are dangerous too. Other poisonous foods we eat at Christmas include Macademia nuts, blue cheese, onions and garlic (e.g. in stuffing).

Never feed your pet chicken or turkey bones as these can easily splinter. Pets can get food poisoning too – avoid giving them your leftovers, and keep your kitchen bin covered or out of reach.

Eating rich, fatty foods that they wouldn’t normally eat can cause a tummy upset or even pancreatitis for your pet. Try to stick to their normal diet (with the occasional festive pet-safe treat thrown in).


The cat owners among you will know how tempting Christmas tree decorations can be for our furry friends. If swallowed, decorations can cause intestinal blockages, and if broken, can cause injury.

Cables and wires (e.g. from fairy lights), are a trip or chew hazard too.

Don’t leave your pet unsupervised around the Christmas tree. Make sure all edible decorations (e.g. salt dough) are out of reach. Don’t allow them to play with decorations in which they might become tangled e.g. tinsel. Keep cables tidy and out of the way.

Plants and trees

Holly, mistletoe, poinsettia and ivy are among the festive plants that are poisonous to pets. They can cause tummy upsets and other symptoms too. Keep them well out of reach.

Pine needles from Christmas trees can cause mild tummy upsets or internal damage if swallowed. Hoover or sweep up the pines regularly, and try not to let your pet eat them.

Wrapping paper and ribbons

If swallowed in large enough quantities, gift wrapping can cause a blockage in the gut. Ribbon or string can be particularly dangerous if swallowed.

Supervise your pets if they are playing with wrapping paper, and do not allow them to swallow it.  


If you have kids and they’ve been good this year, there’s likely to be more toys around than usual. Many toys are bright, noisy and fun looking and so pets may be tempted to chew them.

If swallowed, they can cause intestinal blockages so be sure to supervise your pets, and encourage the little ones to keep their toys tidy (good luck with that one!)


Candles sure do add to the cosy festive ambience but some curious critters might be intrigued by the flames. They may burn themselves if they get too close or may even knock them over.

Be sure to keep to keep candles out of your pets’ reach. Never leave your them unsupervised around candles when they are lit.

Cold weather

We’re all dreaming of a white Christmas, but cold weather poses some dangers to pets. To keep them safe this winter:

  • Keep them warm and dry to prevent hypothermia.
  • Never let them run on frozen water.
  • Don’t let them drink from puddles near roads as they may contain antifreeze or rock salt.
  • Rinse ice and snow from the feet to prevent sores or frostbite.
  • Use lights and reflective accessories to ensure you and your dog can be seen in the dark.


Those in search of that all-important “Instagram-worthy” photo opportunity may be tempted to dress up their pets this Christmas. Whilst some pets might tolerate it, it’s unlikely they enjoy it. Some may even find it distressing.

If you are buying your pet a fancy dress item this Christmas, try to minimise the time they are wearing it and never leave them unsupervised. Watch them closely and remove it immediately if they appear uncomfortable or upset.

This article was written by Dr Vicky Strong MRCVS and provided by the Vet Channel. It is for general information only. Always speak to a veterinary professional if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.