Speaking of Pets: Here’s how to keep your pets happy and healthy this holiday season

Joan Merriam
Speaking of Pets
Be sure to only feed a few table scraps to your pets: too much rich food like turkey skin, pie crust and gravy can cause pancreatitis.
Special to the Daily

The holidays are a wonderful time for most of us, and our companion animals are a big part of this festive season. But it’s important to know what pet dangers can lurk in the holiday home.


Toys make great gifts, as long as they’re appropriate for your pet: If Rover is a fierce chewer, focus on chew-resistant rope and hard rubber toys like Kongs. Cats find string, yarn, rubber bands and ribbon irresistible, but these items often get swallowed and cause gut obstructions. Provide toys made specifically for pets, not for children.


Many people bake or buy special holiday treats for their pets — just remember that if you’re going to put their treats under the tree, they need to be inside a pet-proof container in case Fido or Fifi decides to do a little snooping while you’re away.

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Avoid feeding your dog table scraps: large quantities of food like turkey skin, meat drippings, pie crust and whipped cream can cause serious pancreatitis.


Things like tinsel, garland, glass ornaments and electrical cords are dangers that could tempt a curious dog or cat to investigate and the results can be catastrophic. If you decorate with snow globes or bubble lights, keep them away from your pet’s reach, as they often contain toxic chemicals.

While many people believe that poinsettias are deadly to pets, the pet poison hotline explains that while the poinsettia’s sap can cause vomiting, most animals won’t eat enough to cause poisoning because of its bitter taste. What’s far more toxic is the lily: consumption of one or two lily leaves or petals is enough to cause sudden kidney failure and death in cats. Pets that ingest daffodil or narcissus bulbs or flowers can experience severe vomiting, diarrhea, and even possible cardiac arrhythmia.

With all that being said, don’t let these hazards keep you from decorating for the holidays or having seasonal goodies around the house. Just take common sense precautions, and keep your furry friends safe and happy during this wonderful time of the year.

Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her golden retriever, Joey and Maine coon cat, Indy. She emphasizes that she’s not a veterinarian or animal behaviorist — just an animal lover who’s been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach her at

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