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10 Top Pet Hazards This Holiday

By Olive Thiel

Well, I was only able to rip apart one present under the tree so far this year… a plastic squeaky toy for one of my buddies. Sadly, my mom caught me right in the act though, and I didn’t even get to play with it.

The good news is, we are heading to my Aunt’s house soon! My two human cousins are there, my four legged cousin, and their house is always filled with sweet, smells, and lots of stuff to get into.


But!!! As I reminder from my mom, she told me I had to write an article about 10 Top Pet Hazards During the Holidays, before we left. She said it was to ‘remind me to make good decisions…’ or something pointless like that.

Anyway, here it goes.

Grapes, Raisins, Currants and Sultanas

These are some of the MOST toxic foods to dogs, and really bad for cats too. In fact, they don’t even really know exactly what it is about them that causes so much damage, but the results can be severe, permanent, and cause a potentially fatal case of acute renal (kidney) failure. The really strange part though? It affects each dog differently. Some don’t have any major issues if ingested, and some may actually die. That’s scary! So, be careful with this one! These are in cakes and cookies and lots of other things. If your dog does ingest this, please call an animal hospital or the ASPCA poison control line (888) 426-4435 right away for further instructions.

Sugar Free Candy and Food (Xylitol)

Sugar free? Why? Something about humans we pets just don’t get… dieting. Eat it all we say! But… this is a scary one too. Even just a little bit of the Xylitol found in most sugar free candy and foods can cause vomiting, weakness, lack of coordination… even seizures, coma, and death! The thing is, when dogs consume it, it effects our bodies very differently, impacting the way our pancreas works… this doesn’t happen when humans eat it. The amount of xylitol ingested in proportion to our weight and size tends to determine how toxic or deadly it will be to us. You can check here for levels if your dog ingests is: . And also, call the ASPCA poison control hotline (888) 426-4435 .


I love chocolate! A few weeks ago at my Aunts, I ate two whole advent calendars worth while they left me and my cousin home alone! Yeah, it was awesome. Although my mom didn’t think so, and she was a bit worried about me for the next whole day. See, there is a chemical compound in chocolate much like caffeine, that can cause hyper-excitability and anxiousness, seizures, rapid heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms, and even cardiac arrest in cats and dogs. The “caffeine” level, thus the risk, can vary by chocolate types… for example dark chocolate has more of it so can have a bigger effect. Also, the size of your pet and their general tolerance to it affects how they will react as well. While the effect is more severe on cats and dogs, the dependency of level of severity can vary by the chocolates caffeine level, and the pets size, age and general tolerance. Kind of like alcohol effects humans of all sizes, ages and tolerance levels, so does the toxicity in chocolate affect pets. Thankfully, I am a Lab, which means we tolerate more than most, plus I’m pretty big and the chocolate I ate was very light milk chocolate, so I didn’t have many issues.

Poinsettias, Mistletoe and Holly

I love to sniff stuff, and I love to try new things, which makes these plants for me perfect for me to check out. Unfortunately, they aren’t good for me. Holly can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and drowsiness. While Mistletoe can cause excessive drooling and digestive upset (and if ingested in large amounts even heart and/or neurological problems. Poinsettias are the least toxic, but be prepared to potentially clean up a lot of vomit and diarrhea!


This one I don’t like either. When I ate a bag of medications out of my mom’s backpack when I was a puppy (something I actually figure out how to get unzipped so don’t think even zipping it up and still leaving within reach will help), she called the ASPCA hotline (888) 426-4435, made me drink peroxide, and I threw up on the bathroom floor for the next 10 minutes, while she looked through my puke to make sure all the missing medications were accounted for. It wasn’t great for either of us.
Medications can also effect pets very differently than humans, so even is something is fine for the two-leggers, doesn’t mean it is for us. And depending on the medication, or even supplement… they can be deadly. So keep your medications out of reach AND zipped up. And make sure to ask any guests to do the same. Grandma always has goodies in her purse, just hope I can get them:).

Alchohol (including in cakes)

It’s never funny to give a dog alchohol (or other drugs for that matter). Because again the chemicals and additives just seem to affect us different. We pets are littler than human adults, almost like a children. Even those of us considered big at say 115 pounds are still only the size of a small woman, others run about 60 pounds or the size of an 8 year old, and some of us are as small as a human baby (like the chihuahua friends). Imagine giving alchohol to any one of them for the first time ever. My grandma, she passed away now, but she was 120lbs and never drank… she wanted to have a whole beer on her birthday one year, and after barely finishing it she could hardly walk! It affects pets even worse, and can cause hypothermia, vomiting, coma and even death. Consumed orally or through the skin the results are dangerous.

Cooked Turkey or Chicken Bones

Man do I wish these weren’t harmful. Trouble is, any cooked bones are brittle which means if we ingest them, there is a good chance they will splinter, get stuck in our throats or stomach, or even puncture our intestines! The meat from a turkey can be a little rich for us so be careful if you don’t want diarrhea in our house, but stay away from giving the bones. This is actually one of the more common reasons for pet visits and surgeries, removing harmful bone fragments. So to save your pup, and your bank account, just stay away from them.

Exposed Wires

Oh how my cat friends and puppy buddies love to chew on these! I used to, so my mom put protective coverings over our cords, still I hold fond memories of trying to rip them off. But electrocution from chewing on an electrical cord is the single most common type of electrical injury for household pets. Effects include minor to serious burns, and cardiac arrest which can send a pup to the ER or worse. For the foreseeable future just keep them out of reach of us. Use protective covering. Or just put up a gate to make sure we can’t get to them.


My cat friends love this stuff! In fact, they love anything that it dangly and shiny (not to stereotype of course). But if they are able to swallow any of this it can get stuck in their throat, their stomach, even the sharp edges ultimately tearing through intestinal lining and more! While it isn’t toxic, it’s one of those things that is seen quite often at the vet during the holiday. Something that can become expensive for the owner, and deadly for the cat. Ornaments and other “shiny things” may also pose a threat. So just be careful with what is in reach of your cat, and how much interest they are showing in it.

Essential Oils and Liquid Potpourri  

Did you know that essential oils can be toxic to dogs and cats? And there are some oils that are more toxic than others including wintergreen, d-limonene (citrus), pine, cinnamon, pennyroyal, eucalyptus, and tea tree. Apparently the toxicity varies depending on the oil, but if rubbed on the skin or ingested orally they can cause gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression and even liver damage. Even inhalation of the oils could lead to lethargy, general sickness and pneumonia. Who knew!???! Also, the cats love that liquid potpourri… ok I am stereotyping again, but those stinkers just are so curious! Hey, don’t judge me for saying it, there’s a reason they “curious as a cat”. Make sure yours can’t get to the liquid potpourri, it can be deadly to them.

Edible Tree Decorations or Edible Gifts Wrapped Under the Tree

Last but not least, one of my favorites… edible tree decorations or edible gifts under the tree. Did you know that most of us dogs and cats KNOW which wrapped gifts include food or even toys! We do, it’s a gift… double entendre intended. We also love smelly stuff!!! My approach? Anything present that smells, rip it apart, taste it for a few mouthfuls, and then decide it that was a good idea or not. “Make good decisions” my mom always says. Well, maybe after the fact. Also, I ate the gingerbread ornament off the tree last year. Yum! But, remember, if any wrapping like ribbon should be consumed, or any present contains anything toxic, it means another danger to us pets. So please be careful.

Well, that’s it everyone. I am done. Which means I get to go to my Aunts and hopefully put all these hazards to the test. After all, I am serious about my writing, I should test all this stuff just to make sure! So, off I go. Wish me luck.

P.S. my mom says to wish her luck as well.:)

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