Is Your Home Safe for the Holidays?

Keeping your pet from getting into things they shouldn’t can sometimes feel like babysitting a small child, but you wouldn’t give up their companionship for the world. The natural inquisitiveness of our pets can be charming, but it can also be stressful—especially around the holidays!

If you enjoy decorating, baking, and having a live Christmas tree in your home, it’s important to consider the potential risks they might pose to your pet’s safety. Our companions investigate the world by smell and taste, and may unintentionally ingest something that is harmful to their health. Below are some of the most common holiday pet safety hazards to avoid.

Pets As Gifts

A puppy or kitten may seem like a great gift idea for your children, but the novelty might wear off quickly if your family isn’t adequately prepared to care for the animal. Dr. Brown says, “Pets make wonderful gifts, but please be sure you take the time to do some research on the pet you want to give. Be sure the pet is compatible with the person and the environment with which they will live.”

Make sure the recipient has all the information and materials they need to provide their pet with a healthy, happy life. If you need educated recommendations from a veterinarian, let us know! We would be glad to help you make the right decision.

Holiday Pet Safety in Terre Haute: Cat and dog eating Santa's milk and cookies: Holiday Pet Safety in Terre Haute


The decorative items and gift-wrapping materials listed below can cause choking, intestinal blockage, and other gastrointestinal issues if swallowed:

  • Ribbon, string, tinsel
  • Electrical cords, loose bulbs from strands of twinkle lights
  • Glass ornaments
  • Pine needles from the tree, pine boughs
  • Candles, open flames
  • Artificial plants, pieces from artificial Christmas trees

Foods and Beverages

The following foods can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, pancreatitis, and other issues of the digestive tract if consumed:

  • Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free gum, breath mints, baked goods, and candies
  • Chocolate, especially dark chocolate with high cocoa content, and baker’s chocolate
  • Corn cobs
  • Currants, grapes and raisins
  • Garlic, chives, onions and leeks
  • Macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts
  • Any drink containing alcohol and/or caffeine
  • Chicken and turkey bones
  • Grease, butter, or yeast (from unbaked dough)


These plants are highly toxic for pets and should be kept out of their reach at all times:

  • Holly (berries and leaves)
  • Mistletoe (potentially fatal)
  • Poinsettias

The Christmas Tree

  • Make sure tree is secure in tree stand. For added safety, it might be best to keep your tree in a snug corner where it will be less likely to topple over.
  • Keep lights, ornaments (especially glass ornaments), and tinsel/garland off of the lower-hanging branches of the tree.
  • Don’t let your pet investigate the water in the tree stand—not only is pine especially toxic for cats, but additives to preserve the tree can also make them very sick.
  • Prevent your cat from climbing into the tree’s branches whenever possible; they could get tangled in the lights, accidentally ingest pine needles, or even knock the tree over.

The key to keeping your pet out of harm’s way during the holidays is being mindful and taking extra steps to keep certain decorations, foods, and other items out of their reach. If you have any additional concerns about the safety of your pet, don’t hesitate to call our animal hospital at (812) 645-0715. We will be more than happy to assist you.