Holiday safety tips for pets

dog illustration by Chris Olson

Holiday decorations and food and even new holiday toys are very tempting chew toys for pets just like they are for young children. And we tend to put the holiday items in places dogs and other pets can reach easily. We might remember to baby-proof our house if we have young children, but we should also use the same concept for dog-proofing the house for the holidays. 

Toys (and holiday decorations) that are not designed for dogs are not safe for pets. Small parts--even the squeaky part inside a child's or dog's toy--can spell trouble if your pup chews up the toy and swallows the choking hazard. Instead give your dog indestructible toys to keep him occupied like a "Kong" dog toy filled with dog treats. 

Some types of "people food" can be toxic to your dog. I know it's hard to resist giving your pooch a snack from the dinner table, especially during the holidays. Unfortunately some foods that people love--even healthy foods such as grapes or raisins--can harm or kill your pet. 

We know chocolate and candy is bad for Fido, but did you know that meatloaf with onions is very harmful because of the onions? When my Rhodesian Ridgeback got pancreatitis after eating turkey meat with the skin on it, I found out how quickly a healthy dog can become gravely ill from greasy foods. Also, you should avoid any candy or other item sweetened with Xylitol. See my list below for foods to avoid. Plus, for more information on pet safety during the holidays, check out the ASPCA Holiday Safety Tips.

dog photo

Common signs of poisoning in pets include:

  • Muscle tremors or seizures
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Redness of skin, ears, and eyes
  • Swelling and bleeding


Foods to avoid

For a detailed look at poisonous foods and items for pets, check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Here's a quick overview of just a few people foods dogs and other pets should not eat according to the ASPCA.

  • Avocados
  • Alcohol
  • Greasy foods like turkey skin
  • Nuts (especially macadamia nuts and walnuts)
  • Chocolate
  • Candy or anything containing the sweetener Xylitol
  • Coffee and Caffeine
  • Grapes or Raisins
  • Onions, Garlic, Chives
  • Human Medicine
  • Yeast Dough
  • Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
  • Milk
  • Salt


Plants to avoid

Many of your favorite household plants are poisonous to pets too. Check out the ASPCA: 17 Common Poisonous Plants

Here are 17 plants that are poisonous to pets:

  • Lilies
  • Marijuana
  • Sago Palm
  • Tulip/Narcissus bulbs
  • Azalea/Rhododendron
  • Oleander
  • Castor Bean 
  • Cyclamen
  • Kalanchoe
  • Yew
  • Amaryllis 
  • Autumn Crocus 
  • Chrysanthemum 
  • English Ivy 
  • Peace Lily (AKA Mauna Loa Peace Lily) 
  • Pothos 
  • Schefflera


Illustration by me, Chris Olson.

Photo image by digital_image_fan

~ Chris Olson
Freelance writer and illustrator
Momathon Blog: The 24/7 mommy marathon--on two feet or four wheels

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