The winter holidays pose unique hazards to pets. Fortunately, these hazards can be easily prevented with a little bit of careful planning. In this article, you’ll learn about the most common threats to your pet’s health during the winter holidays, along with some advice on simple steps that you can take to keep your pet happy and safe!



Fatty foods can cause severe gastrointestinal issues in pets, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and even Pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a severe inflammation of the Pancreas, and in some cases can be fatal. Fatty foods to avoid feeding your pet are turkey skin, buttery side-dishes, gravy, and beef fat. If you do feed your pet Turkey, keep to white meat (it’s easier to digest), and make sure it doesn’t have any added oils or spices.

Turkey bones can also be hazardous to your pet. Bird bones are hollow (to support flight), so they break easily. When your pet ingests the bones, they can splinter inside their digestive system, which can cause severe damage to your pet’s intestines. This can lead to infection or intestinal blockage, which can be fatal if not appropriately treated by a veterinarian.

Raw bread dough can be especially dangerous for dogs and cats. When pets ingest raw dough, the yeast converts the sugars in the dough into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Alcohol is toxic to pets (we’ll talk about this later on in the article) – and carbon dioxide can cause bloating. Bloating is a very serious condition – it is potentially life threatening, and requires immediate veterinary care.



Mistletoe and holly are common Christmas plants, but they are toxic to pets. Holly can cause your pet to suffer from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal issues and even cardiovascular problems. Other toxic plants that are common during the winter holidays include:

  • Poinsettias
  • Lillies
  • Daffodills
  • Amaryllis

A few preventative measures should be taken with the Christmas tree too. Cats are often attracted to tinsel. When ingested, tinsel can cause intestinal blockage, which is a serious condition that usually requires surgery.

Make sure your pet isn’t able to climb or otherwise access the Christmas tree. The oils on the tree can be irritating to the mouth and stomach. This will also prevent your pet from tipping the tree over. And pick up any pine needles that fall on the floor – when ingested, these can puncture your pet’s intestines.

Christmas lights and ornaments can also pose a danger to your pets if not kept out of reach. If your pet chews on the cords or lights, it can cause electric shocks and burns in the mouth. Make sure to check cords regularly for signs of chewing. When ornaments are ingested, it can cause intestinal blockage or rupture, which are serious medical conditions that require immediate veterinary care.


New Year’s Eve

Fireworks can spook many pets, causing them to bolt from the house. Sadly, there is a significant increase in run-aways during holidays that use fireworks. There are a few preventative measures that you can take to keep your pet safe from harm.

Before the holiday, make sure that your pet’s ID tag and microchip are up to date. If your pet is not microchipped, just request an appointment with us. The procedure is inexpensive, relatively painless, and very fast. And during the holiday celebrations, create a safe (no accessible exit points) room with soothing music to keep them relaxed.

New Year’s Eve (and the other winter holidays) commonly include alcohol. Alcohol poisoning in pets is actually fairly common. Please make sure to keep any alcoholic beverages or products in places that your pets cannot access them. Symptoms of mild alcohol poisoning include involuntary urination or defecation. Symptoms of severe alcohol poisoning include slow breathing or heart rate, depression, and even heart attack.

Our family at Southwest Vet wishes you and your family the happiest (and safest!) winter holidays! Please let us know if you need anything at all – we are always here for you and your pets!