Skip Navigation
Oklahoma State University
Center for Veterinary Health Sciences

Healthy Animals - Healthy People

Holiday Dos and Don’ts

Thursday, December 14 2017

cat and christmas tree

Holidays are a wonderful time of year for spreading good cheer among family and friends, including your family pets. Here are some tips to keep the holidays safe for the entire family.

Don’t feed pets table scraps or let them sit under the table where children may drop food. Gravy, meat fat, and poultry skin can cause life-threatening conditions like pancreatitis and gastrointestinal problems. Bones can splinter and create bowel obstructions.

Keep chocolate away from pets. While it is a holiday staple for many people, chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate the more dangerous it is to pets.

Be wary of baked goods and sweets which can be too rich for pets. Also, xylitol, an artificial sweetener often found in baked goods, candy, and chewing gum, has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs.

Keep holiday decorations away from pets as they can eat them. For example, cats sometimes eat tinsel, which can cause an intestinal blockage serious enough to require surgery.

Don’t let your pets climb the Christmas tree. If the tree falls over, it could injure your pet. Consider tying the tree to the ceiling or a doorframe.

Keep flowers, table centerpieces, fireplace adornments, and other festive plants out of reach for your pets. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar and holly are on the dangerous holiday plant list. If consumed, they can be poisonous to pets. Poinsettias can be troublesome as well.

Unplug holiday decorations when you are not around. Cats and dogs are sometimes tempted to chew electrical cords. This could lead to pet injuries or even a fire.

When company comes calling, remember your pets may not be so welcoming. If your pets prefer solitude, put them in a safe, quiet place away from the festivities.

What about picking out the perfect gift for your pet? Here are some ideas:

  • Good health – regular veterinary visits help keep your pet healthy.
  • Time – spend quality time with your pet playing or taking a walk.
  • Microchip your pet if you have not already done so. If you have, make sure your contact information on file is current.
  • Make or buy treats that are best for your pet’s nutritional needs. Consult your veterinarian or a nutritionist for ideas.
  • Love – shower your pets with love and attention all year long.

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to enjoy family and friends, which includes your family pets. Keep everyone safe and healthy this holiday season.

by Elisabeth Giedt, DVM


Veterinary Viewpoints is provided by the faculty of the OSU Veterinary Medical Hospital.  Certified by the American Animal Hospital Association, the hospital is open to the public providing routine and specialized care for all species and 24-hour emergency care, 365 days a year.