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Canine Holiday Hazards

Author: Nicole Stewart | Date: November 29, 2012

As I thought about making everyone aware of things that might be dangerous for your dog during the holiday season, I started to feel like Debbie Downer.  I mean, here is a list of things that are toxic and/or can be life threatening to your dog:


  • Chocolate, as you may already know, is toxic for dogs, especially in large amounts.
  • Fatty foods are plentiful at the holidays and too much can cause a disease called pancreatitis.
  • Raisins that are in many holiday sweets have been found to create renal problems in larger amounts.
  • Fish, meat or poultry bones have the potential to splinter causing intestinal problems that can result in surgery.
  • Alcohol is often flowing during holidays and half full glasses of sweet smelling drinks left behind, especially eggnog can be tempting and dangerous for your pooch.
  • Macadamia nuts are found in many baked goods and are toxic to dogs.
  • Uncooked yeast dough can expand in a dog’s stomach and create a blockage when enough is ingested.
  • Meat soaked strings smell and taste good going down, but they can wreak havoc on their intestines on the way out.
  • Empty garbage is filled with any and all of the above and more and is a joyful activity for our scavengers that can cause a multitude of stomach issues.

Household items

  • Mistletoe, holly and lilies are toxic in varying degrees from mild to severe, especially in greater amounts.
  • Potpourri can have a variety of essential oils which can be irritating to the skin or cause gastrointestinal upset and in some cases, can be life-threatening.
  • Poinsettia adds beautiful color to a home during the holidays, but can cause an upset stomach if ingested.
  • Dura flame logs that sit next to the fireplace waiting to be put to use are made of sawdust, which is not digestible and can cause a blockage if too much in eaten.
  • Candles light a menorah carrying long held tradition and some candles add wonderful scents to your home, but keeping all of them away from a happily wagging tail is essential for a safe holiday season.
  • Gifts under tree hold lots of surprises for everyone and Fido might want to be the first to unwrap those exciting boxes.  Keep in mind that the ribbon on them can cause blockages that can require surgery, not to mention that the gifts inside might not be pet friendly such as perfumes and colognes
  • Christmas Trees are such a centerpiece for some homes during the holidays.  It’s important to keep them stable for children and dogs that are capable of tipping them over.  Other things to keep in mind around your tree:
    • Needles from the tree are toxic for dogs.
    • Tinsel and fake snow can cause blockages if ingested.
    • Lights and cords if chewed on are capable of causing burns.
    • Ornaments and food decorating a tree can be very tempting for your canine to investigate with their mouth.
    • Water in the tree stand has chemicals and should be covered up with a tree skirt to avoid tempting a dog to drink it.

Yikes!  Feels like we should skip decorating or enjoying ourselves at all for the health and well being of our dogs.

Well, we all know that isn’t going to happen, and quite honestly, it shouldn’t.  The holidays are part of our lives for good and for bad so, here are just a few suggestions to help you navigate your dog around the potential holiday hazards without squashing your holiday spirit:

  • Manage their freedom with gates and crates.
  • Alter your décor placement where you can with the above things in mind because training your dog not to wag his tail probably won’t happen.
  • Make sure your dog is still getting enough exercise, especially before company comes over.
  • Get creative and plan ahead to keep your pooch busy with food dispensing toys for mental stimulation.

Most importantly, if you think your dog has ingested or come in contact with something toxic, always err on the side of safety and call your vet immediately.

Have a happy, healthy holiday season!


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