Safety Tips for Your Pet this Holiday Season

The Christmas Tree

Tinsel can be appealing for cats to play with, but if ingested can cause damage to theirintestines. This can lead to serious illness and require surgery to remove the tinsel and repair the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, the water at the base of your tree contains secretions and possibly fertilizers that can cause your furry friend to have a gastrointestinal upset. The best way to keep your pets out of tree trouble is by making the tree off-limits unless you are there to supervise.

Electric Light Cords

Many of us decorate our homes with Christmas lights. If your pet becomes curious and bites through an electrical cord, it may result in severe burns to their mouth. Even worse, fluid may fill in their lungs and lead to respiratory distress. This is an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.

Holly, Mistletoe, Poinsettias, Lilies

These festive looking plants should be kept away from the mouths of dogs and cats. Symptoms of ingestion include anything from vomiting and diarrhea (e.g. poinsettias and holly) to cardiovascular problems (mistletoe) and even death (e.g. lily ingestion by a cat). The Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA) has a searchable database of plants that are toxic and non-toxic to pets. Check out their website at


This liquid tastes pleasant to our 4-legged companions. Unfortunately, very small amounts can be lethal. For example, a cat can be poisoned just by walking through spilled antifreeze and then licking its paws during grooming. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly. Be sure to always thoroughly clean up any spills and store antifreeze in tightly closed containers in secured cabinets. .If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Ice Melting Products

These can be irritating to the skin and mouth of your furry friends. Depending on the quantity and actual ingredients of the ice melt, signs of toxicity would include excessive drooling, depression and vomiting. An effective yet pet friendly product is available at our hospital. Stop by to pick some up.

Rat and Mouse Poisons

These products are used more frequently during colder weather. However, they are extremely dangerous to your pet. When using rat and mouse bait make sure you place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your pets.


By now you probably know whether your pet is a garbage forager, and are normally vigilant about keeping it out of your pet’s reach. However, during this busy time of year when unaware company can throw off family routines, a pet is more likely to get into something they shouldn’t. Items in the garbage can cause intestinal blockages as well as gastrointestinal upsets. So be sure to monitor your trash accordingly to keep your pet feeling great this holiday season.

Holiday Leftovers

Some of your holiday guests may not be aware that certain foods are very dangerous to your furry friends. Onions, garlic and scallions can damage dogs’ red blood cells and lead to anemia. Raisins, grapes and chocolate are another potential danger if ingested in large enough quantities. Even by overindulging with fatty treats such as gravy or too much turkey or ham, your pet may develop an upset stomach and even pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Train your Guests

If you’re celebrating with house guests this season, adult beverages can be easily accessible to your pets. Be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where your furry friends cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure. Also, if you have overnight guests, be sure to inform them to keep their medications our of reach. Drugs such as anti-inflammatories (Advil, Motrin, Aleve) and anti-depressants can cause serious complications if your pet’s ingest them.

The healthcare team at Kortright Animal Hospital wishes you a safe and happy holiday with your family and furry companions. If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s safety, please feel free to contact us at 519-824-7190.


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