It is one of the most joyous and festive times of the year, but  winter months can create special dangers for all our pets.   Here are a few tips to help keep your “furry children”  safe during this special time of year.

Holiday Items

  • Tinsel/Ribbon – can be ingested and cause serious gastrointestinal trauma.
  • Christmas tree water (with additives) – can cause stomach upset.
  • Bubble lights – contain methylene chloride which can be harmful if swallowed as a liquid or inhaled as a vapor.
  • Lights/electrical cords – cats, kittens & puppies may bite cords causing electrocution.
  • Glass/Plastic ornaments – can cause serious gastrointestinal trauma.

Winter Items

  • Antifreeze – even a small amount (1 tablespoon) can be fatal to a small pet.
  • Rodenticide – should not be used in a home with pets or small children.
  • Ice Melts – can cause ulceration if left on the skin or feet.  Can also cause serious gastrointestinal trauma if ingested.

Food Items

  • Alcohol – can be toxic to pets causing breathing problems & depression.
  • Chocolate – dark and/or bakers chocolate is more harmful in smaller doses than milk chocolate.  All chocolate should be kept away from pets.
  • Human Food – is too rich for pets, and while it’s tempting to share over the holidays, it’s best to keep your pet on his/her normal diet.
  • Macadamia Nuts – cause difficulty walking, tremors & swollen limbs.
  • Yeast dough – if enough is ingested before it has risen fully or cooked, it will continue to rise causing serious gastrointestinal distress.


  • Holly Berries – can cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested in large quantities.
  • Mistletoe – can be very toxic to pets if ingested.
  • Pointsettias – are not as toxic as once believed, but can cause stomach upset.
  • Lillies – even in small amounts, can cause serious kidney damage if ingested.
  • Yew – causes muscle tremors, difficulty walking & has adverse cardiac effects.
  • Cyclamen – the roots of this plant can cause serious gastrointestinal distress.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, you should call your veterinarian or you can call the NAPCC.

(NAPCC stands for National Animal Poison Control Center)
This is not a free call.
* 1-800-548-2423 ($30 per case, credit card only; free follow-up until problem is resolved.)
* 1-900-680-0000 ($20 for 5 minutes, $2.95 per minute thereafter).

Thanks to Lynn for the cute photo of Jason, Kaleigh and Hannah!

5 Responses to “Winter precautions for pets”

  1. Leslie

    Thank you very much for these tips. When we are not home, I use my bar stools to barrcade the Christmas tree against knocking off ornaments or playing with cords. My boys don’t bother with it when we are home and wait for us to rescue the balls that roll underneath, but who knows what they may think is interesting when they are on their own.
    Merry Christmas- Sheltie Nation is a welcome part of my day, every day!

  2. Jennifer

    Thank you for this list of reminders! And thanks for warning people about uncooked yeast dough. Charlie stole and ate a whole uncooked pizza dough before we knew about the dangers of it. He was extremely sick and had trouble walking, presumably because the yeast fermented in his belly and had the effect of alcohol poisoning. Now we tell anyone who will listen to not leave uncooked dough in a place where a dog could reach it!

  3. caren gittleman

    Thanks for these most important tips!

    Wish you the happiest of holidays!! Love all that you do for us and appreciate it!

    Wish you would follow back on Twitter (smile), my name there is @catchatcaren but I own a nearly 4 yr old Sheltie named Dakota :)

  4. P. Snyder

    I’ll add one comment about electrical cords. If you use a lot of lights to decorate inside & it includes the use of extension cords, they aren’t only a risk when plugged in. When you unplug them for the night, be sure the ends of the cords are tucked away, out of sight & reach. My sheltie got hold of one during the night just before Christmas last year. She chewed off the plug & what looked to be about 3″ of the cord, but I couldn’t be sure since I only found a few small pieces of the cord on the floor. The short of it was she did ingest that & started vomiting later in the day. Next morning I was ready to call the vet when the last of it came up in a wad of tangled tiny wires & plastic that wouldn’t go thru her system. This year I used power strips & cords with switches so I don’t have to unplug them, just turn the switch off for the night.


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