Skip to main content

The 12 Hazards of Christmas

The 12 Hazards of Christmas
Click to enlarge

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but there are a few things to consider in order to keep your pets happy and safe over the festive season.

1st Hazard of Christmas — Tinsel

Tinsel is a very common cause of problems at this time of year, especially in cats. When cats play with tinsel, they often end up swallowing some or getting some wrapped around their tongue. To be on the safe side, it is best to keep tinsel out of homes with cats.

2nd Hazard of Christmas — Fruitcake and Mince Pies

Fruitcakes and mince pies contain raisins and currants, yeast and often alcohol, all of which can be very toxic to cats and dogs. Never leave a wrapped fruitcake under the tree, and make sure you and your guests are extra careful not to leave half-eaten dessert plates accessible to pets.


3rd Hazard of Christmas  — Mistletoe

Ingestion of small amounts of mistletoe can lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, while larger quantities can lead to problems with the heart and nervous system. Hang it high and remove the berries to improve safety.  

4th Hazard of Christmas  — Batteries

Batteries are everywhere at Christmas time, and if you are not careful they can easily be ingested by an inquisitive dog or cat. Alkaline batteries can cause nasty burns if chewed, and obstruction if swallowed whole, but it’s the smaller “button” or “disc” type batteries that can easily cause more severe or even fatal burns in a cat’s or dog’s oesophagus.

5th Hazard of Christmas — Lilies

As you may know from reading our recent blog, all parts of the lily plant are highly toxic to cats, causing rapid onset acute kidney failure. If you have a cat, our advice is to never have lilies in your home.

6th Hazard of Christmas  — Ornaments

Broken glass, swallowed ornaments, and the wire ornament hangers can all wreak havoc for a cat or dog’s digestive tract. And the broken glass isn’t fun for their delicate paws, either. Also, be very careful to hang homemade salt dough ornaments out of reach of pets

7th Hazard of Christmas  — Light Strands

Chewing on light strands can lead to, at best, a nasty burnt mouth for your pet, and potentially even fatal burns or a house fire. Never leave your pet unattended with a decorated Christmas tree. Ensure you turn off and unplug all lights at night, and consider using lower voltage LED light, ideally with plastic rather than glass bulbs.


8th Hazard of Christmas  — Chocolate

Unfortunately, we see many cases of chocolate poisoning every Christmas. Chocolate poisoning can initially cause vomiting and diarrhoea but may lead to twitching, tremors, seizures and life-threatening problems with the heart.

Don't leave chocolate (or chocolate-containing foods) under the tree. Wrapped or not, your pets are likely to sniff them out and help themselves. Don’t hang chocolate decorations on your tree, and be careful not to leave desserts or leftovers in an accessible place.

9th Hazard of Christmas  — Wrapping Bows & Ribbons

Like tinsel, wrapping bows and ribbons are a very common and dangerous cause of digestive obstruction in pets this time of year. Given their innate curiosity, cats are typically at higher risk, but dogs are still susceptible too. Don’t allow your pets to play with ribbons or bows, and be sure to properly and promptly dispose of all wrapping materials.

10th Hazard of Christmas  — Liquid Potpourri

The detergents and essential oils in most liquid potpourri can cause significant digestive or breathing problems for the pet unfortunate enough to lick any of it up. You also need to be careful with the candles that are usually used to warm these liquids, as an inquisitive cat can easily knock them over.

11th Hazard of Christmas  — Cyclamen

The beautiful cyclamen plant is found in many homes at this time of year, but unfortunately the leaves, and especially the tubers. Ingestion can cause salivation, digestive upsets, heart problems and can even be fatal in some cases. If you have cyclamens in your home, be sure to place them safely out of reach of your pets.

12th Hazard of Christmas  — Houseguests

It is important to be aware of the potential dangers that your family and friends could inadvertently expose your pets to over the holiday period.

Some examples include xylitol in sugar-free chewing gum, chocolates, flowers and plants, batteries,

fruitcakes and mince pies, etc.

Make sure your guests are aware of all the potential hazards your pets face over Christmas (you could share this post with them!) and remind them not to feed your pets anything, and to keep doors and gates closed to prevent escapees.

Having guests in the house can also prove stressful for your pets so provide them with a safe room or area that they can escape to, and consider using pheromone plug-in diffusers to help alleviate stress.


If you have any concerns or queries about anything mentioned above, please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Pennard Vets branch.

And finally, from everyone at Pennard Vets, we wish you and your pets a very merry, and safe , Christmas and a Happy New Year!



Related Articles

Frosty Feet amp Keeping Your Dogs Safe in the Winter

Frosty Feet & Keeping Your Dogs Safe in the Winter

When the skies are blue and the air is crisp there's nothing better than a walk with your dog. We've written a few tips on what to watch out for in this cold spell.