Holiday Hazards for Dogs and Cats

Content Sponsored by 24Petwatch

During the most joyful time of the year, it can be hard to keep your cat or dog comfortable and happy. Following these safety tips and avoiding holiday hazards can make things a bit easier for you and your pets.

From understanding toxic food and plants to traveling with ease, we cover all the essentials you need to know to protect your furry companion throughout the holiday season.

Safety Tips for Dressing Up Cats and Dogs

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If Your Pet Doesn’t Like Their Costume, Take It Off

It's fun to include your dog or cat in the festivities by dressing them up, but not all pets like wearing clothes or accessories. If they show distress while wearing something, take it off immediately.

Make Sure Your Pet Can See and Move in Their Costume

Avoid outfits that cover your pet's eyes, limit their vision, or restrict movement. They should be able to walk, bark, meow, and hear without issue.

Don’t Leave Your Cat or Dog Unsupervised While Wearing a Costume

Always monitor your pet when they are in costume, so you can quickly remove it if necessary.

Don't Take Off Your Pet's ID Tag

Your pet’s ID tag is crucial for safety, especially during the holiday season. Always ensure your pet's tags are secure and visible regardless of their outfit. If your pet happens to get out, possibly due to the chaos of guests and entertainment, their identification will be key in ensuring a safe return home. For your pet's safety, please keep them in a secure room when guests are over to prevent them from escaping. But most importantly, keep their tags on at all times.

Tips for Traveling with Pets

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Microchip Your Pet

Combining travel with an already frantic holiday can make things hectic. So, being prepared is vital. Before you travel, microchip your dog or cat. It's a simple, reliable, painless procedure that can reunite you with your pet if they go missing. Ensure your contact details are accurate and current, so lost pet companies can contact you if your pet is found. You can register their microchips and update your contact details with 24Petwatch.

Consider getting a Lifetime Protection Membership from 24Petwatch to provide you with peace of mind. Even when not traveling, it's common for pets to go missing during the holiday season. 24Petwatch has reunited more than 730,000 pets with grateful families since 2003, and their expertise is at your fingertips with a Lifetime Protection Membership.

Flying with a Pet

  1. When deciding on a travel spot, check the requirements of your destination, as some places have different rules and regulations for pets. If you are traveling internationally with your pet, contact your veterinarian at least 3 months prior to departure to check health certification requirements.
  2. Book early, as most airlines limit the number of pets on each flight.
  3. Ask your vet if any calming medications can help your pet relax during a flight.
  4. Purchase an airline-approved kennel that has enough room for your cat or dog to sit, stand, and move around.
  5. Avoid traveling with your pet by plane if they need to be placed in cargo; it can be a scary experience with loud noises, turbulence, unsecured items, and fluctuating temperatures.

Road Trips with Your Pet

  1. Take your pet on practice car rides so they get used to being in a moving vehicle.
  2. Never leave them in a parked car alone. Depending on the climate, they can quickly get heatstroke, hypothermia, or frostbite.
  3. Pack a travel kit with water, toys, food, treats, and poop bags.
  4. Secure your pet in a carrier or seatbelt so they don't distract you while you’re driving.
  5. Dogs need exercise, too. Take breaks so your dog can use the bathroom and stretch their legs. A cooped-up dog can get excited if they don't expend that energy.

Where to Leave Your Pets When You’re Traveling

If you're not taking your pet with you and friends or family can't watch them, you can find a pet sitter through Rover. To help save money, 24Petwatch’s Lifetime Protection Membership comes with a discount for Rover.

What to Do If Your Pet Goes Missing During the Holidays

Report the incident to 24Petwatch's lost pet service. With access to the largest North American pet registry, their specialists will conduct a real-time search.

Holiday Decoration Safety for Cats and Dogs

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Tinsel and Broken Ornaments

Pets are curious. They love tasting and touching objects. Ingesting pieces of tinsel or broken ornaments can cause internal bleeding or get stuck in the digestive tract, resulting in the need for surgical removal.

Tree Safety

If you celebrate any holidays involving trees or bushes, the best way to keep your pets safe is to put a barrier like a gate or playpen at the base. This will prevent your dog or cat from playing with it or climbing it. Also, stagnant water can contain bacteria and fertilizers that drip down from the tree.

DIY Dough Ornaments

Salt dough ornaments contain very high concentrations of salt. Your pet might be attracted to the smell of the dough and eat the decoration right off the tree, which can lead to salt toxicity.

Snow Globes

Some snow globes contain antifreeze, which is highly toxic to pets. It also has a sweet smell that can attract pets if the snow globe breaks open.


Open flames can ignite fur and burn curious animals. Meanwhile, scented candles with essential oils can be toxic. They can be inhaled or stick to your pet's fur.

Gifts and Wrapping Paper

Small toys are a choking hazard and can obstruct your pet's airways. Wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows can also create a blockage if enough is consumed.


Pets might chew through cords from decorative lights and get electrocuted or trap themselves if tangled.

Toxic Food for Pets

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Turkey Bones

While they aren't toxic, they're still dangerous to dogs because they can get stuck in their digestive system, cause choking, and sharp pieces can lead to internal bleeding.

Onions, Garlic, Chives, and Leeks

Whether it's cooked, raw, or powdered, ingesting these foods can damage your pet's red blood cells, which carry their oxygen.


The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for dogs. Ingesting toxic amounts can result in symptoms like vomiting, elevated heart rate, seizures, death, and more.


You would never give your pet alcohol, but some are so curious they'll drink it right out of the glass, which can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Raisins, Grapes, and Currants

Protect your dog's kidneys and prevent them from consuming raisins, grapes, or currants.


Due to their high-fat content, nuts can cause pancreatitis. They pose an even greater risk if coated in other toxic ingredients like garlic or chocolate. Macadamia nuts are toxic for dogs, leading to weakness, vomiting, tremors, and other clinical signs.

Milk Products

Most pets are lactose intolerant, so ingesting milk products can create gastrointestinal issues.

Unbaked Bread

Unbaked bread dough can expand in a pet’s stomach and cause bloat. Pets can also get alcohol poisoning if they consume uncooked yeast.


Ingesting a moderate amount of coffee grounds, tea bags, or diet pills can lead to death in small animals.


Xylitol is a sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs and is found in candy, chocolate, and some peanut butter. If enough is ingested, it can result in liver failure, low blood sugar, and death.

Fatty Meats

Excessive amounts of fat may lead to diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, and even pancreatitis.


Consuming too much salt, especially without water, can trigger symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, muscle weakness, seizures, and even death.

Toxic Plants for Pets

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Even a bite or two of the flower or stems can lead to acute kidney failure in cats. Sniffing the pollen or drinking the water can have the same result.


An amaryllis flower's leaves, stems, and bulbs can cause vomiting, low blood pressure, and abdominal discomfort.


Often used in wreaths for the holidays, yew can cause symptoms like drooling, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma, death, and more.

Holly and Mistletoe

Eating holly or mistletoe can lead to severe gastrointestinal issues, like vomiting and diarrhea. Pets will also smack their lips, drool, and headshake because the spiny leaves are painful to swallow and ingest.


Poinsettias are only mildly toxic to cats and dogs, but can irritate the stomach, mouth, and skin.

To prevent your pet from eating any of these common holiday plants, avoid bringing them home, inspect gifts from guests, and share a list of plants and flowers to avoid with your florist.

What to Do If Your Pet Eats Something Toxic

If you suspect your pet ate something they shouldn't have or are showing signs of poisoning, seek medical assistance immediately. Call your vet, local emergency, or the Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661 for advice. However, there is an $85 fee per incident when you call the Pet Poison Helpline®.

Remember, when you have a pet, preparation is the best way to have a fun holiday. During holiday parties, keep your pet in a secure room to prevent them from escaping or eating something toxic when you're not looking. Whether you're traveling or staying at home, it's a good idea to note what vet clinics and emergency services are open during the holidays. If something does happen, you'll be prepared. For even more peace of mind, you can access a 24/7 vet helpline free for one year with the Lifetime Protection Membership from 24Petwatch.

For more information about enhanced Pet Protection Services, contact a 24Petwatch Lost Pet Recovery Specialist today at 1-866-597-2424.

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