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Metro Newsroom

Metro Animal Services Offers Tips to Keep Pets Safe and Healthy This Holiday Season

Wednesday December 17, 2008

Ho, ho, ho -- here come the holidays!

‘Tis the season to keep your furry friends in mind while you decorate and entertain. There are four main areas of concern this time of year; plants and flowers, Christmas trees, food, and electrical cords and lights. Many of these common holiday items can be harmful to your pets.

Plants & Flowers

Poinsettias – There is no definitive consensus regarding the level of toxicity of these plants, but why take a chance? If your pets ingest them, poinsettias can irritate the mouth and stomach and may cause mild vomiting and diarrhea.

Mistletoe – May cause heart problems. If ingested, it may cause gastrointestinal distress.

Holly – if eaten can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and lethargy.

Lilies – May be deadly to your cat. Be especially careful with varieties such as Tiger, Asian, Stargazer, Casa Blanca, Japanese Show and Easter because they can cause kidney failure in cats.

Christmas Trees

Make sure that your Christmas tree is secured so that it won’t come tumbling down if your animal runs around it. Securing your tree with fishing line to a wall or baseboard can prevent a disaster.

Glass ornaments, ribbons and tinsel can be very dangerous if your pet eats them. Glass can cut or puncture the intestinal tract and tinsel and ribbon can cause an obstruction in the bowels. Be sure to keep all breakable or edible ornaments closer to the top of the tree.

The water that keeps a live tree fresh can cause stomach upset due to the fertilizers and sap leaching from the tree. Stagnant water can also be a source of bacteria that could upset your pet’s digestive system.

Electrical Cords and Lights

Extra electrical cords are usually a necessity around the holidays. But, they need to be kept out of reach of your curious pets. Try taping the cords down to the floor or along the baseboard to make them harder for pets to access. Strands of lights can be interesting to pets. Chewing any of these can result in electrocution.


It wouldn’t be the holidays without all of the delicious goodies to eat. Chocolate is particularly dangerous to pets -- the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous. Chocolate can de deadly!

Fatty foods can also cause distress. Avoid “treating” your pets with the holiday leftovers, especially fatty skins. Bones from turkeys and hams are not suitable for pets. Turkey bones can be brittle and lodge in the intestine if ingested. Ham bones are also not suitable chew treats. Before everyone sits down to eat, try feeding your pets their meal with an added treat of a little canned food. Feeding them first will help ease the guilt of not giving in to treats from the table.

Most pet owners are aware of these hazards. Please spread the word by passing this along to some of your pet owning friends or co-workers. It could save a lot of grief or even a life.