Keep the Holidays Safe for Your Pet

Keep the Holidays Safe for Your Pet

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Today we’re covering all things holiday safety for both cats and dogs! From travel to plants, read on for a quick 101 style guide on how to keep your pet safe and happy this fall and winter holiday season. Do you have any safety tips for the holidays? Share them with us down below!

Dangerous Holiday Indoor Plants

Decorating your home with flowers or holiday plants is a favorite holiday pastime of many. But sometimes these beautiful plants can turn into a nightmare for pet owners. Many common household holiday plants are actually toxic or dangerous to pets. Below we’ve listed out some common fall and winter holiday plants and the symptoms on ingestion that your pet may exhibit. If you suspect that your pet has eaten an unsafe plant visit your vet right away.

  • Holly (Ilex sp.): vomiting, diarrhea, and depression.
  • Mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.): vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, slowed heart rate, collapse and, if a lot is ingested, death has occurred. Some animals may even show erratic behavior and possible hallucinations.
  • Poinsettia (Euphorbia): irritation to the mouth and stomach, and vomiting.
  • Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, Easter cactus (Schlumbergera or Zygocactus): In dogs, if large quantities of this plant are ingested, vomiting, possibly with blood, diarrhea (possibly with blood), and depression. With small ingestions, typically there are no signs of toxicity. These plants are considered low toxicity plants.
  • Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium): vomiting, diarrhea, depression, drooling, and lack of appetite.
  • Christmas rose (Helleborus niger): abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and delirium.
  • Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicuni): vomiting, diarrhea, mouth ulcers, seizures, depression, respiratory depression, shock, and death.
  • Thanksgiving cactus (Zygocactus truncactus): vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Cats also can develop staggering.

Cost of Common Veterinary Interventions

Say your pet gets into a little holiday mischief, how much exactly is that going to cost? We’ve done our best to estimate the cost of some common procedures and vet care, but it should be noted that each vet will be different in their pricing. Also, if you have pet insurance, most of these costs will be covered in your policy. Additionally, if your visit a vet after hours for an emergency the costs will usually be higher than normal. And lastly, if you have a large pet then more supplies will be needed to care for that pet making for a larger bill.


  • X-Rays: $100-$500
  • MRI: $2,000-$2,500 per scan
  • Ultrasounds: $50-$500
  • Endoscopy: $800-$2,000
  • ECG: $25-$100
  • 24-Hour Hospitalization: $1,200+
  • Anesthesia: $50-$100
  • IV Fluids: $30-$80

Food Dangers

The Human Society of the United States lists the below food as dangerous to pets. If your pet has ingested any of these foods and is showing symptoms of distress visit your vet immediately.

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Apple seeds
  • Apricot pits
  • Avocados
  • Bones (chicken, turkey, or any other small bones not intended for pets)
  • Cherry pits
  • Candy (particularly chocolate—which is toxic to dogs, cats, and ferrets—and any candy containing the toxic sweetener Xylitol)
  • Coffee (grounds, beans, and chocolate-covered espresso beans)
  • Fat Trimmings
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Gum (can cause blockages and sugar free gums may contain the toxic sweetener Xylitol)
  • Garlic
  • Hops (used in home beer brewing)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Milk (and other dairy products)
  • Moldy foods
  • Mushroom plants
  • Mustard seeds
  • Onions and onion powder
  • Peach and plum pits
  • Potato leaves and stems (green parts)
  • Raisins
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Salt
  • Tea (because it contains caffeine)
  • Tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
  • Walnuts
  • Xylitol (artificial sweetener that is toxic to pets)
  • Yeast dough

Holiday Safety Travel Tips

Here are some quick and simple tips to keep your pet safe while you travel for the holidays.


Kenneling/Boarding your pet: Dogs and Cats


  • The kennel should practice proper sanitation in order to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
  • The kennel should enable each animal to have the ability to receive periodic exercise.
  • The kennel should have adequate cage and run sizes, with larger cages for bigger dogs.
  • The kennel should have associations with specific veterinarians either on the premises or working nearby.


How to Find a Good Pet Sitter: Dogs and Cats 


  • Ask fellow pet owners or your veterinarian, groomer, or pet-supply store for referrals.
  • Do your homework regarding your pet sitter’s training background.
  • Have the sitter meet your pet in advance and observe how the sitter interacts with your companion.


Driving with Your Pet: Dogs and Cats


  • Open the window, but not all the way.
  • Secure your dog with a carrier or a restraining harness.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in the car, even in cool weather.


Flying With Your Pet: Dogs and Cats


  • Carry-on pets must be small enough to fit into a carrier that can be stowed under the seat.
  • When making reservations, make clear whether you expect to carry your pet abroad or send him cargo
  • If you plan to travel internationally with your pet, make sure to check with either the country’s embassy or consulate well in advance. Some countries do not allow pets into their country and others require long quarantines.
  • Regulations vary from airline to airline, so ask your carrier which procedures they follow or read our guide here.

Hotel Etiquette For Pets: Dogs and Cats


  • Clean up after your dog during walks.
  • Never arrive with an unannounced pet – even if you think your visit worked out fine at this same hotel last year. Things may have changed in a year and the hotel may no longer accept pets.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash when you leave the hotel room.
  • Make sure your pet has reliable identification
  • Keep the litter box clean.


Introducing pets to family members

Tips for family members:


  • Guests should not feed your pet food, except with treats approved by you.
  • Guests should not chase your pet or make him feel trapped or insecure in his own home.
  • Pets should not be picked up or cuddled against their will. If your pet is accustomed to having his own private space, keep it inviolate.
  • Don’t stare directly into the eyes of a dog. He may take this as a challenge. Instead, give the dog a quick glance and look away.
  • Greet a dog by holding the hand out to be sniffed, with the palm flat and upward.
  • When petting a new dog, avoid touching the top of his head, which may be misread as a sign of dominance. Speak softly and with a happy tone in the voice. Dogs can sense fear and confidence, and will react accordingly.


Tips for you:

  • Take note of whether your pet is becoming a nuisance. Remember that what is cute and normal for you may be a bother for your guest, especially if your pet is keeping him from enjoying your delicious hors d’oeuvres.
  • Begging should be discouraged as well. Barking, loud meowing, jumping on guests – all should be discouraged. Dogs or cats that are just too much of a lovable handful may need a timeout in their special room.
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