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Keeping Pets Safe During the Holidays

By: Cecily Kellogg

From Thanksgiving to Hanukkah to Christmas—wondering how to keep your pet safe during the numerous holiday celebrations this season? Here are pet safety tips from vet tech and guest blogger Cecily Kellogg.

Keeping Pets Safe During the Holidays

The holidays are a time for family, friends, food, and fun. But amid all the hustle and bustle, it can be easy to overlook some very real risks to your pet’s health. Here’s what you need to know about the most common holiday hazards for pets and how to prevent them.


Our pets depend on a nutritious diet, but holiday table scraps can interfere with your pet's ability to get the nutrients they need. Some foods are even dangerous for pets to consume. Here’s a quick list of foods you should not share with your pet.

  • Chocolate. Pets cannot metabolize chocolate the way we do, so ingestion of even small amounts can cause gastrointestinal distress—and large amounts can be lethal.

  • Sugary Candy. Sweets should be avoided as they are not nutritious and can contribute to dental decay.

  • Onions & Garlic. These delicious root vegetables, though perfect for the holidays, can cause gastric disturbances in pets.

  • Raisins & Grapes. These natural sweets can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and in extreme cases, kidney failure in pets.

  • Raw Bread Dough. If you’re planning on baking fresh bread for the holidays, keep the raw dough away from pets, as it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms.

  • Chewing Gum. A sweetener used in most gums, called xylitol, is toxic to pets.


Sprucing up the house is a holiday tradition for many of us, but before you begin, check that you’re not inadvertently putting our pet at risk.

Holiday Trees

A Christmas tree will likely spark the interest of your pets. It’s okay for them to be curious, but there are a few precautions you can take to ensure their safety.

  • Cover the base of the tree to protect the water reservoir from thirsty pets

  • Avoid using tinsel as this can be eaten by pets and can cause a potentially deadly bowel obstruction. Also, tinsel is coated with aluminum, which is toxic if consumed.

  • Avoid string, as this too can result in a bowel obstruction if eaten.

Holiday Plants

Common seasonal decor plants such as holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia are toxic to pets if consumed. If you use these plants in your decor, please keep them out of reach from your pets.


The holidays are a season for lights, but the wires needed to string all those bulbs together can be hazardous to your pets, especially to puppies who are in their “chew everything” phase. Wires should be grouped, bound, and if possible concealed to avoid any potential electrocution risk.


Whether you enjoy a roaring fireplace or candles on the table, be aware that fire can be a risk. Keep fireplace screens shut and extinguish unattended candles to prevent a fire hazard.


If you’re having visitors for the holidays, be sure they stow their medications where your pets cannot reach them. Many human medications are dangerous for pets, and the last thing anyone wants is a trip to the emergency vet during the holidays.

Recognizing the signs of poisoning in pets

Knowing the signs of a toxic emergency can save your pet’s life. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Persistent or excessive drooling

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Tremors

  • Convulsions

  • Seizures

If you suspect that your pet has consumed a toxic substance, contact our vet immediately. Poisoning cases are time-sensitive, so quick action can be a life-saver.

A note on door safety

The holidays are a time for visitors, and a busy house means lots of people coming and going. If your pet is an escape artist, be sure to inform your guests. Take a quick headcount of your pets before bed. And watch doors when people are entering or exiting our home. Each year, thousands of pets are accidentally struck by cars. Don’t let your animal be a statistic—a little caution now can save lives. And a pet insurance policy like Figo can ensure that even if accidents do happen, your pet is protected.

Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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