Holiday Do’s and Don’ts

The holidays are on the horizon. This means plenty of food, friends, family, and potential wrongful ingestions for your furry family. Please continue to be mindful as this season tends to bring stress, temptation (for the foodie pets and people alike), untrained visitors, new decorations, and a little chaos for everyone. Below is a refresher on what to look out for to keep them safe.


Halloween is a time to transform your house to a ghoulish estate and then hand out the candy. Try to abort the candy access to your canines (and daring felines) by putting these items in high cupboards or on the high shelf of the pantry. Try to limit candy in bedrooms as they are often left out for the taking. Common toxins include chocolate and xylitol, however too much sweets overall can lead to pancreatitis or gastroenteritis resulting in mild to severe vomiting, decreased appetite, lethargy, and/or diarrhea. Keep in mind that decorations with string, flimsy pieces (or interesting plastic/fabric to chew on), and even fake webbing can be very interesting for the lazy cat suddenly very curious by the new surroundings. Keep an eye on your cats to be sure they aren’t chewing on any of the new items. If they are, either put the decoration out of reach, or better yet, away.

November is a prime time for family gatherings and food with Thanksgiving. Many of the foods you cook contain onion and garlic in them which are toxic to cats and dogs. Just like candy, too many savory and human foods can lead to pancreatitis or gastroenteritis. So even though they are our family too, try not to share the thanksgiving dinner or leftovers. For the dumpster divers out there (both dogs and cats!), be very careful when throwing out bones or other parts of the turkey as these can easily lead to gastrointestinal obstruction requiring surgical intervention. When disposing of bones, try sealing them in a bag and immediately placing them in a garbage can outside or in your garage in an area not accessible to animals.

Soon enough, we will be preparing for Christmas; known to cats as the indoor jungle period. Many cats love plants. Poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly (just to name a few) are toxic to our cats and dogs. Check out the ASPCA website for a full listing of toxic plants at As always, decorations can pose a threat too. Be careful of tinsel as cats love to play with this item as well and ingestion can lead to gastrointestinal obstruction requiring surgery. Ornaments are prime subjects to cats and dogs. Avoid hanging ornaments within your pet’s reach. Try to hang breakable, small, and edible ornaments high on the tree. Don’t forget about under the tree too. Ribbons and bows on presents are another coveted item of cats that are potential gastrointestinal obstructions if ingested. Try to keep the tree water off limits to your pets, offering fresh water alternatives instead as this water can grow a lot of bacteria. Finally, our pets often like to chew on the new cords suddenly laying around at their level. This can be very dangerous and lead to electrical shock causing burns of the mouth and damage to the lungs. Split loom can be used to protect the cords that cannot be safely concealed or out of reach of your pets.


Whatever the ingestion, your veterinarian (Dr. Christy and Dr. Socks!) can help determine the best course of action. If unavailable, the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline is always available 24/7 at (888) 426-4435 for a $65 consultation fee.