Christmas Dangers for Pets – What to Watch Out For


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The tinsel is up and the tree is groaning under the weight of baubles. Your Christmas lunch menu is all planned. What could possibly go wrong? Anyone with a pet will know that brightly wrapped gifts, glittery decorations, and ALL THAT FOOD are serious temptations for furkids. While it’s mostly harmless, there are some Christmas dangers for pets that you need to be mindful of.

From tree ornaments to the ham leftovers, some common Christmas safety risks for your pets are covered in this article.

Christmas dangers for pets: Decorations

Christmas décor is essential to really get into the festive spirit. There’s not much that screams Christmas more than a twinkling tree. But are these pet safe?

Christmas lighting

They’re pretty and festive, but fairy lights can be a Christmas safety risk for curious pets. They twinkle and dangle, and anyone with a curious pet knows the dangers of that combination. Make sure to hang them out of reach.

Why? Your pet could get them stuck around their legs or neck, for a start. Then there’s the potential internal damage… For puppies in the teething stage (or just pets who chew everything!) then electric shock, lacerations from glass, and internal injuries could occur.

Electrical shock may occur when a pet chomps down on an electrical cord, causing tongue lacerations and possible death. Check your holiday lights for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution.

If you have candles on display, place them in a hard to reach spot so that your pets can not access them. Not only can pets seriously burn themselves, but knocking over candles creates a fire hazard and may leave a trail of hot wax that will easily burn the pads of paws and skin.

Christmas trees

You might think that fake Christmas trees = dangers for pets. But actually, real Christmas trees are where the danger lies. Pine needles are toxic if ingested, and can cause internal puncture wounds. They can also exacerbate skin issues for dogs and cats who have sensitive skin or allergies.

Make sure to keep real Christmas trees well-watered so that the needles don’t dry out and drop off for your pet to eat. Keep them away from the water, because this in itself could be poisonous to your pet.

Know that other common Christmas plants can be poisonous too – lilies especially, and holly as well.

It’s not just the tree itself though, it’s also the decorations! Cats in particular can’t resist a good, sparkly piece of tinsel. If they accidentally ingest tinsel it can stuck in the digestive tract. This often requires surgical removal.

children with dog by the sea

Christmas dangers for pets: Lifestyle risks

Not all Christmas safety risks come in the form of tinsel and wrapping paper. The season itself is often a more dangerous time for pets, and part of this is because our general lifestyle changes over this period. We have more foods in the house, more visitors coming in and out (hopefully closing the door behind them!), we’ll often take our pets to new places, and so on.

When it comes to managing Christmas and pets, here are a few things you should know.

Christmas food

We all know that Christmas and food go hand in hand. Great for humans (aside from the extra few kilos!) but not always so great for pets. One of the biggest Christmas dangers for pets is all the foods that they can’t or shouldn’t eat.

Here’s a quick (nowhere near exhaustive) list of foods to keep away from your pet during Christmas:

  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol (check baked goods, peanut butter and other pantry goods for this)
  • Cured, salted, or very fatty meats (lamb, ham, salami etc)
  • Onions and garlic
  • Cooked bones
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Mince pies, Christmas pudding, fruitcake, and any other foods with raisins and sultanas

If you want to organise something special for them, you still can. Just check out our article on Christmas dinner and pets.

Christmas distraction!

We’re all busy during Christmas. Busy wrapping up gifts, busy cooking huge meals, busy entertaining guests. Keep a watchful eye on your pets over this period. It becomes easier for them to slip out of the door and onto a road. Or for them to sneak into the kitchen while you’re busy talking to your cousin.  

Pets can also become unsettled with big changes in routine and all the added excitement. Be sure to check in on them regularly to ward off those Christmas dangers for pets. Then give them plenty of reassurance and attention at the same time. And word yourself up on pet safety and fireworks while you’re at it, in preparation for New Year’s Eve.

Don’t let a pet emergency ruin your Christmas. Taking out pet insurance means that if your dog or cat does get a biiiiit too involved in the Christmas spirit this year, you can get them prompt medical attention. Without worrying about the bill.

That’s why we think it’s the best Christmas gift for pets.

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