Christmas hazards for pets

Davies Veterinary Specialists

Pet Owners

14th December 2021

Davies Veterinary Specialists Christmas Hazards for pets and how to avoid them

Christmas is the time of year when pet owners may need to exercise a little more caution and awareness of where potential hazards may lie.

As well as being aware of which festive foods cats and dogs should not eat, you also need to watch out for new and unusual items around the house – such as Christmas decorations – that might attract their interest.

Care around the Christmas tree

It is not just the food temptations that make Christmas a time for extra vigilance. Any cat or dog would be intrigued by a colourful bauble lying on the floor. One pounce and it turns into shattered glass, potentially lodged in their paws.

As much as everyday hazards like that may present a threat to your pets, accidents could happen that have wide-ranging effects; trailing wires from Christmas tree lights could look like an invitation to a tug-of-war game, but could have an adverse effect on everybody’s Christmas if the tree comes tumbling down.

Christmas tree lights can cause burns or electrocution if chewed. This is a particular risk to cats. There is also the risk of strangulation or injury if your pet becomes entangled in the lights, so keep them away from pets or only have them in rooms where pets are always in your line of sight. Salt dough ornaments are also risky and can cause a potentially fatal salt toxicosis.


Are there other specific Christmas precautions for pet safety?

Keep wrapping paper and presents out of reach of pets and avoid using ribbons for wrapping.

If dogs eat a lot of wrapping paper, it can cause an obstruction in the stomach. Cats may want to play with ribbon but, if ingested, it can cause a blockage or twisted intestine and will need medical attention. The same goes for tinsel.

Keep candles away from pets and make sure any lit candles are supervised at all times.

Ingestion can cause choking. Plus there is also a fire risk if your pet knocks a candle over.

Store batteries away from pets and make sure toys using batteries are stored away when not in use.

Batteries can cause serious internal damage if chewed or swallowed by pets. Alkaline batteries leak a caustic substance that can burn your pet’s mouth, oesophagus or stomach. If you suspect your pet has swallowed a battery, contact your vet immediately. For a quick guide on ensuring a happy and healthy Christmas for your pets, see our Top Tips.


Certain plants pose potential problems too:

What Christmas plants are dangerous or poisonous to pets?

Quick check-list:

  • Christmas tree: Sharp tips can cause internal damage if swallowed. Cats and kittens may also try to climb the tree. It is advisable to secure the base of the tree to reduce the chance of it falling over. Glass baubles can easily break and create sharp shards which are dangerous to animals.
  • Holly: The berries can cause stomach upset.
  • Ivy: Can cause stomach upset when ingested, and irritation to the skin with prolonged contact.
  • Lilies: Be careful with lilies if you have a cat. Lilies are poisonous to cats, as is the water they are placed in.
  • Mistletoe: Can cause drooling, retching and vomiting.
  • Poinsettia: Can cause irritation to mouth and stomach, overproduction of saliva and sometimes vomiting

For more tips this Christmas, including the festive foods cats and dogs should avoid, check out our other blogs!

Click here to read our blog on Foods for cats and dogs to avoid this Christmas.

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