The holidays bring joy and celebration, but some of the merriment could endanger your pet. Many of the foods and decorations that we associate with the holidays could cause problems for your pet ranging from gastrointestinal distress to death. Become familiar with the common hazards found around the holidays to keep your pet safe and the holiday fun continuous.

Fatty Foods

Though we often indulge in fatty foods over the holidays, do your pet a favor and do not share. Fatty foods have the potential to cause pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas that typically causes vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.


Chocolate is a common staple in households during the holiday season. Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats. Pets that ingest chocolate may develop vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, seizures, acute heart failure, and death.

Grapes and Raisins

It is the season for charcuterie boards and fruit cakes. Grapes and raisins will cause acute kidney failure if ingested by both dogs and cats.

Onions and Garlic

Be sure to keep all forms of onions and garlic (raw, cooked, or powdered) out of your pet’s reach. Onions and garlic damage red blood cells and cause anemia when consumed in excessive amounts. Cats are particularly susceptible to onion and garlic toxicity.

Sugar-Free Treats

Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is highly toxic to dogs and cats. Pets that have ingested xylitol suffer from low blood sugar, acute liver failure, and death.

Meat Bones

Cooked bones can splinter, cause a gastrointestinal obstruction, or cause a gastrointestinal perforation. Raw bones are less likely to splinter, but still pose the risk for gastrointestinal obstruction or perforation, as well as the risk for parasite transmission.

Poinsettias and Holly

Poinsettias and Hollies can cause oral irritation and gastrointestinal distress if ingested. Symptoms of ingestions include: drooling, licking lips, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Ingestion of lilies will cause acute kidney failure in cats. Ingestion will cause gastrointestinal distress in dogs.


It is best to keep this common plant hung high out of your pet’s reach. If a small amount of mistletoe is ingested, both dogs and cat may experience gastrointestinal distress. Large amounts may lead to low blood pressure, seizures, and death.

Christmas Trees

Cats are notoriously curious, and maybe even a bit naughty. Whether your Christmas tree is real or fake, be sure it is secure to prevent it from falling and injuring a pet. If your tree is real, prevent your pet from drinking from the water reservoir, especially if fertilizer is used.

Tinsel and Ribbon

Cats are attracted to tinsel and ribbon and are often found playing with it. Tinsel is deadly if ingested by cat because it is made from plastic or metal, which can lacerate the cat’s gastrointestinal tract.

Rock Salt/Ice Melt

Protect your pet’s paws with boots or thoroughly wash them after each winter outing. Rock salt can cause abrasions and ulcerations on the paws that may lead to pain and infection. If rock salt is ingested, gastrointestinal upset and potentially dangerous electrolyte imbalances may occur.


Always clean up antifreeze spills up thoroughly. Antifreeze ingestion can cause acute kidney failure and death in both dogs and cats.

If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxin, do not hesitate to call us at 775-738-6116 during business hours or at 775-388-8250 if after business hours for an emergency.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Elko Veterinary Clinic!