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Deck the Halls – Safely – for Companion Animals

Deck the Halls – Safely – for Companion Animals

For many of us, ’tis the season to decorate our homes with live
Christmas trees and holiday greenery. But did you know that some of these
yuletide traditions can be hazardous to your pet’s health?

* Lovely lilies are commonly used in holiday floral arrangements, but
many varieties–including tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and
the Casa Blanca–can cause kidney failure in cats.

* Bag the boughs of holly and live mistletoe. Yes, they add a nice
touch to your holiday decor, but holly can cause vomiting, nausea,
diarrhea and lethargy if ingested by your pet. And should he eat mistletoe, he
could suffer gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Instead, opt
for just-as-pretty artificial plants made from silk or plastic.

* If your dog or cat ingests pine tree needles, she can suffer an
upset stomach and oral pain.

* Don’t drink the water! Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers,
which, if ingested by your pet, can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree
water can also act as a breeding ground for bacteria–and Fido could end up
with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.

* Although the potential toxicity of poinsettias is generally
overrated, these showy holiday plants can be irritating to your pet’s
mouth if eaten, and may cause mild vomiting or nausea.

* If you suspect that your pet has eaten a potentially toxic
substance, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control
Center’s emergency hotline–1-(888) 426-4435–for round-the-clock
telephone assistance. For more information on poison prevention, visit APCC

Read more: Pets, Everyday Pet Care, Safety

ASPCA via Furry Friends Rescue
ASPCA via Furry Friends Rescue

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


+ add your own
4:19AM PST on Dec 18, 2007

For those who are new ferret owners this holiday season...Be aware that ferrets LOVE to steal. You should monitor your ferrets out of cage time especially closely during this season to prevent ingestion of small tree ornaments, tinsel, garland and even tree needles (both fake and real)they also love to steal the shinnies so watch those bulbs! I "play pen" my tree to give me extra time to bag the fuzzballs. Not as pretty but my carpet sharks are kept safe and snuggly! Check hidey spots, cages and the liter tray every night. yes its additional work but ferrets hide illness so well you literally may only have minutes warning before you realize they are life threateningly ill & loose them as a result.

11:00PM PST on Dec 17, 2007

This topic brings me back to a Christmas party a friend of mine had where the cat had eaten cigarette butts from an ashtray. That poor animal vomited for days and became so badly dehydrated that the Vet said that he may not live. But, with the proper treatment, fortunately, it lived. It pays to be safe.
Thanks for the tips.

10:33AM PST on Dec 16, 2007

Thank everyone for the great tips..I am not sure about the chocolate thing, so I just avoid letting my animals get to it. All the other comments and tips were also greatly appreciated. :)

4:18PM PST on Dec 13, 2007

we have had a cat for 9 years who steals all the chocolate she can find, with no ill effects. Byt the tips you gave are great! Although now I will worry about my dog digging up the hyacinths nest spring.

4:05PM PST on Dec 13, 2007

Watch your Holiday guests and their "Christmas Cheer". Pet's love to have a taste and alcohol just isn't good for them.

3:25PM PST on Dec 13, 2007

Unfortunately, I don't have permission for pets, however, I do have friends that bring there animals when they come to visit. I am not alerted and will use caution as to what I have in the house in order to safeguard my visitors. Thank you for this timely information.

11:16AM PST on Dec 13, 2007

Chocolate is poisonous to cats, dogs, and even horses. If your pet should happen to eat some. Pick up all pet food and make sure there is plenty of water to drink. Carefully monitor your pet for the next 24 hours. My boxer mix ate almost a pound of 72% dark chocolate. She had the caffine jitters, but was fine. Remeber no tinsel on the tree! Cats love to play with it and eat it, and it may cause severe gastrointestinal damage.

Happy Holidays!

1:39AM PST on Dec 2, 2007

my little girl dachshund once got on the chair then to the side table and ate half a bag of hersey kisses, foil and all!! she was fine, the foil even came out the other end with no problem. she lived another 3+ years and just passed 2 days after last christmas at a good age of 15yr & 2 months. I would not go around giving dogs chocolate, I think it depends on the dog. I would not take a chance ever to want to find out.

3:44PM PST on Dec 1, 2007

I think it's cats that chocolate is poison to. It's not great for dogs, but cats are the ones in great danger. A family dog once got all the chocolate foil wrapped ornaments off a tree, carefully removed all the wrappers,ate the chocolate, and was fine afterwards.

10:17AM PST on Dec 1, 2007

And don't forget that some bulb plants also can be toxic to pets, like Tulips and Hyacints.

When baking be careful with the dough - animals sometimes steal dough and it can contain alcohol (yeast product). Many dogs get alcohol poisoning.

At Christmas many people have lots of sweets in the trees, on tables and as pressies. Remember that chocolate is poisonous to dogs!! They can die.

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