The Holiday Season and Your Pets

Jim Ellison, President, Pets Companion Club at PebbleCreek

It is the holiday season again and a time to be extra careful about your pets’ well-being. The holiday season is a time when family and friends visit, and chances increase for your pets to escape your home. Please be extra vigilant and make sure your pets have proper identification at all times.

Food safety: With the holiday season comes a variety of baked goods, chocolate confections, and other fattening foods. Although a food may be safe and healthy for you, the same is not always true for your pet, and it may even be toxic for them. Keep your pet on his or her regular diet over the holidays, and do not let family and friends sneak in treats.

Foods containing grapes, raisins, and currants can result in kidney failure in dogs. Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, a chemical highly toxic to dogs and cats. Many sugarless gums and candies contain xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic to dogs and can cause liver failure. Leftover fatty meat scraps can produce severe inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), leading to abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.

Plant safety: Many holiday plants can also cause problems for your pets. Poinsettia plants are mildly toxic. More worrisome are holiday plants such as lilies, holly, and mistletoe. Lilies are the most dangerous plants for cats and can cause sudden liver failure. Yuletide plants such as holly berries and mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and even heart arrhythmias if ingested.

For complete listings of food and household items toxic to your pets, visit the handouts page of the Pet Companions Club website at