Christmas Dangers and How to Keep Your Pets Safe

Christmas Dangers for Pets
Nov 22, 2021

Holidays are a time of celebration and festivity.  All the family wants is to have a fun and relaxing time together and this means doing our best to keep our fur-family safe and secure.  Here are some tips and tricks for ensuring a happy holiday and a good Christmas day.

Food Temptations


Sweet treats like chocolate, sugar lollies (sweets), mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding are an integral part of any Christmas feast but also pose one of the greatest threats to our pets.  It is essential that you, your children and any visitors to your home are well aware of how serious these foods can be for their beloved fur-siblings.  Eating just small amounts of these foods can be fatal. 

Chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs and the more concentrated the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Sugar lollies contain xylitol which is also highly toxic for pets.  Mince pies and Christmas cake contain high doses of concentrated sugar due to the dried fruits and alcohol contents.

Remember too these items may be wrapped up out of human-vision but our pet’s noses know what’s under the tree and can sniff out edibles without having to read the label first!

Keep the sweet treats strictly out of reach of pets at all times.

Symptoms of toxic poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhoea, heart arrhythmias and seizures.  If your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms here are your emergency call numbers:

Book online at The Village Vet or call us directly at:

Pymble Clinic on 9499 4010

Killara Hospital on 8350 5678

Emergency Out of Hours :   If we are closed for holiday break, call Northside Emergency Veterinary Service on 9452 2933 for all emergency treatments.

Australian Animals Poison Centre:  1300 869 738

Salty Meats and Bones

Ham poses a couple of threats to your animals.  Excessive salt in the meat can lead to toxicity with similar symptoms to that of sugar toxicity.  Excessively fatty meats such as the skin from ham and turkey can lead to severe inflammation of the pancreas and surrounding intestinal organs.  Pancreatitis can be fatal for animals.  Cooked bones from ham and turkey can get stuck in your pet’s throat or cause intestinal blockages or perforations which may lead to emergency surgery.

Make sure to seal your rubbish bags well and always keep them in a bucket with a pet-proof lid.


There is never a reason to give your pet alcohol so remember that Christmas treats often use alcohol as a flavour additive that is not always obvious.  Be mindful of this throughout the festive season.


Lengths of ribbon, tinsel or string lights can, if swallowed, cause intestines to bunch and twist leading to severe internal damage to your pet.

Kittens and puppies find that power cords feel great to chew.  The soft wire coating and the warmth from the electricity feel good on teething gums.  But cords are a major safety risk to your pet and a fire hazard to your home at any time of year.  If the urge to chew these cords is too much for your pet to resist, remove that particular decoration this year and try again next year.

We’ve all had a giggle at the cat or dog videos, they are about to reach the top of the perfectly decorated Christmas tree to them find themselves in a heap on the floor strewn with baubles and lights everywhere.  While most of these incidents may end up nothing broken other than the animal’s pride, oftentimes baubles are made from thin glass, will be decorated with glue, pins, hooks or other objects that should not be swallowed.  

Christmas Plants

Mistletoe and Holly should not be ingested and may cause vomiting and diarrhoea.  If you are unsure, check your plants are safe for pets and children alike.

Candles and Fire

As with most of the above items the general rule always applies to pets:  If it’s safe for a small child it’s probably safe for a pet.  Fire pits, candles and BBQ’s are not to be left unattended when animals are around.  


Just like children, pets can either be scared of fireworks or intrigued by them and will often take their emotional cues from their owners.  Calm them in a reassuring manner and tell them it’s all “OK”. 

Keep them safe and secure by giving them a safe place inside where there is less noise.  Try not to leave them alone during this time but if you do, try giving them a piece of clothing that carries your scent.  It will help if the doors and windows are closed and even draw the blinds/curtains if the lights are causing distress.

Some animals will try to escape when they hear fireworks – it’s a natural reaction.  So, keep their name tags on at all times and make sure they are micro-chipped with up to date details.  Other animals will hide under a blanket or pillow.  Try masking the fireworks with another noise such as the TV or radio. 

If in doubt give us a call on 94994010 and our staff can talk you through some strategies to help assess and cope with pet anxiety.  

Here’s One for the Humans…

Shop Well!  Consider the sources of your proteins

Are your eggs, meat and fish free range, locally sourced, farmed sustainably and accredited by a recognised organisation? 

Are your Christmas decorations re-used or made from sustainable materials?  Get creative and keep our planet in mind this Christmas.


Remember when dressing your pets in cute Christmas outfits that this should be a temporary arrangement while taking some Insta pics only.  Costumes are not necessarily comfortable for your pets and may be excessively hot on a steamy summer day.  Check for choking and tangling hazards too and do not leave your pet in their costume unattended.

There are numerous ways to keep your pets cool in summer.  For more ideas read our blog on Heat Dangers for Companion Animals here.

Keep Things Normal and Fun!

It’s Christmas and holidays for the humans but for your pets it’s just another day.  Be aware of what your pet needs to keep them feeling safe and secure.  

If your dog is walked at a certain time of day, try to maintain that schedule with them.  

Walk your dog early if you are planning a day of entertaining at home and make sure your pets have a quiet place to go to be by themselves.  Keeping them happy with help reduce anxiety levels and keep them in good health.

Cats and dogs love treats that are designed just for them so make sure they get something safe health and special too and has the added bonus of keep them away from the temptations that are unsafe.  Kongs, food-hunts or snuffle mats are a great way to keep them busy for longer.

A Time for Giving

If you are reading this, we assume you are an animal lover.  Consider donating to our favourite charity, Polar Bears International, an organisation especially close to Martine’s heart.  As a researching Veterinarian she spent 10 days in the Arctic Circle in 2019, observing Polar Bears in their natural habitat.  Check out our Christmas photoshoot in support of this cause or read more about the organisation here.

For more information on how to pet-proof your home go to:


  • Vets Choice. Article by Dr Alice Marshall, Registered Veterinarian (NSW VSB)
  • Vet West

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