Holiday Pet Safety

The holidays are a fun time to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends, including our beloved pets. The holiday season may also present opportunities for new sites, smells- and sometimes dangers- for our pets.

Dangerous Objects

There are many objects that pets can ingest that may upset or block their digestive system. These things can include candy, food, ribbon, tinsel, and even smaller holiday decorations. “Be very mindful about what things are left out that pets can get into. Make sure that food, ribbon, bows and other dangerous items are cleaned up,” says Dr. Edward Cooper, assistant professor of Veterinary Clinical Sciences and service head for Emergency and Critical Care.

Dr. Cooper adds that feeding “table scraps” can cause upset and even result in obstructions in the digestive system. Toys, ribbon, and other small items such as candy are commonly viewed as toys by pets and if ingested can cause major problems.

Holiday plants can also pose a danger to pets. Many varieties of house plants can be toxic. Dr. Cooper suggests checking the ASPCA toxic and non-toxic plant list when bringing any new plants into your home.


Pets’ behavior can also be affected during the holiday season. “Holidays can be stressful to pets,” says Dr. Meghan Herron, Clinical Assistant Professor. “There are changes in an owner’s schedule, you often have more visitors, and there are new things like Christmas trees with lights.”

Dr. Herron suggests trying to maintain a consistent routine including feeding and exercise schedules. Pets, especially dogs, can get “cooped up” during the winter, so it is important to make sure they get plenty of exercise and enrichment.

Some animals are not comfortable with strangers, so if you plan to have visitors, provide a “safe haven” for your pets. This can be a room where pets can retreat to and enjoy toys and food enrichment. When pets are in this area, try to avoid disturbing them. If your pets get very anxious or aggressive around visitors, it may be best to board them. This will help avoid unneeded stress for you and your pets.


It is recommended that you seek the advice of a veterinarian if you notice unusual symptoms, including vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, or change in behavior. These can all be signs of a more serious problem.

The Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for companion animal, farm animal, and equine emergencies. If your animal needs emergency treatment, please call 614-292-3551 (companion animal) or 614-292-6661 (equine and farm animal).

For other holiday safety tips, visit the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA)’s website


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