dog at holiday dinner table

‘Tis the season for decking the halls, hosting family and friends, and wrapping up a wonderful year. While this is traditionally a time of much happiness and celebration, it comes with some concerns for pet owners.

Certain aspects of this joyous season can actually hold some danger for our non-human family members. Arlington Animal Hospital wants you to have holiday pet hazards on your radar so that your whole family can enjoy the season. 

Decked Out Disasters

Many dangers for pets during the holiday season arise from the decor we choose to display in our homes. Festive and seemingly harmless, many of these items hold some risk for our animals. Choosing to use them cautiously or not at all is sometimes best for pets in the home.


String-like objects — The holidays can look like paradise to a playful cat or pup. Strings of lights, package ribbons, tinsel and the like can be fun to play with. If ingested, string can cause a dangerous intestinal obstruction. Biting into a live string of lights can lead to electric shock.

Heat hazards — During the holidays we tend to burn candles, use oil or wax burners more, and have the fireplace going. Be sure to keep hot objects out of the reach of curious pets and things like melted wax or hot oil on a sturdy surface that won’t accidentally be knocked onto anyone below. 

Toxic plants — Many plants that we bring into our homes for the holidays can be harmful if a curious pet takes a nibble. Mistletoe, amaryllis, lilies, and holly can all be quite harmful if ingested. Poinsettia, which often gets a bad rap, may cause some mild vomiting or irritation but is generally not a seriously toxic plant. 

Fragile items — Glass ornaments and decor can pose an issue if broken or ingested. Also beware of snow globes, which may contain antifreeze in the water within them. Even a small amount of this lapped up off the floor can be deadly. 

Oh Christmas Tree — The pillar of Christmas for many families, the tree itself can be problematic. If you display a Christmas tree be sure to anchor it well so that it cannot fall over. If you have a live tree remember that the tree water may contain fertilizers or bacteria that could harm your pet if ingested. Some pets may also eat pine needles, which can cause digestive upset or even an obstruction. 

Hazards in the Hubbub

Besides holiday decor, many pets find themselves in trouble during the increased activity in the home during the season. Holiday parties and visitors and hold dangers that animal lovers should be aware of.

Trash can tidbits Food-related waste, such as discarded wrappers, turkey bags, and food waste can cause digestive upset, pancreatitis, or an intestinal obstruction. Keep your trash secure.

Aunt Mildred’s purse Visitors in the home may bring things like medications, cigarettes, or xylitol-containing candy or gum in their coats, purses, and bags. Keep your visitor’s belongings put away and inaccessible to pets in the home to prevent pet poisonings

Alcohol Unsupervised glasses can be a big temptation for curious critters. Encourage your guests to keep their cups of cheer up and out of the reach of pets. 

Open doors Your houseguests may not be as cognizant as you are about keeping your pet in your house. Watch for open doors and consider keeping your pet in a crate or secure room if you have a lot of people over. This is a great time, too, to be sure that your pet’s microchip registration is up to date. 

Stress Lots of commotion in the home can lead to upset tummies and other anxiety-induced behavior. Be sure that your pet has a quiet place to retreat to during the commotion. 

Here for You for Holiday Pet Hazards

Despite your best efforts, it is possible that holiday pet hazards may still affect your furry family.  Please call us right away if you need our help, no matter the day or time.