specialty veterinarian careers winter haven fl

Holiday Safety Tips for Pets in Winter Haven, FL

Holidays are joyous occasions, but they can be very dangerous for pets if you aren’t careful. You must keep a watchful eye on your sweet pets and not let them get into anything that can harm them.

Make sure you keep pets away from certain foods, holiday decorations, and presents. They can get into trouble if left unsupervised.

holiday pet safety tips

There are some simple pet safety tips you should know. Read below and learn more about holiday safety tips for pets.

What Dangers are Posed to Pets During the Holidays?

Pets will often get into trouble during the holidays. There are ways to keep them out of danger during holiday parties and festivities in general. The following include information about what may be dangerous to pets this holiday season.

Keep Pets Away from Tree Decorations

Tree decorations are hazardous to pets, as they can ingest something that can harm them. Tinsel, lights, and ornaments are all tempting for pets to get into. Make sure that breakable ornaments are far out of your pet’s reach. Ornaments made from salt dough are also toxic to pets.

Remember to unplug the lights when you cannot supervise your fur baby. If your pet chews on Christmas lights, they could be electrocuted. Also, do not place the lights on the lower tree branches, as your pet can get tangled up in the lights. Presents should be off-limits to them as well.

Tinsel can cause intestinal blockage if eaten. If possible, try not to use tinsel. If you purchase a live Christmas tree, make sure fallen pine needles do not surround the tree. Pine needles can seriously harm your pets’ intestines if they ingest them.

If you decide to purchase a cut tree, you need to water it. You should make sure your pets don’t drink the water under the tree especially if you add:

  • Preservatives
  • Fertilizers
  • Pesticides
  • Aspirin

These chemicals will keep the tree fresh. However, they will harm your pet.

The best way to have a real Christmas tree when you have pets is to cover the water container with the following options:

  • Plastic wrap
  • Tinfoil
  • Tree skirt
  • Plastic bag with a hole

As mentioned above, sometimes, if the water sits for a long time, it becomes stagnant and full of bacteria. It can make your pet sick if they drink it. Creating barriers between your fur baby and the Christmas tree is essential to keep your pet safe. You may want to try a puppy pen as a blocker.

Common Holiday Plants are Harmful to Pets

Holly and mistletoe are toxic to both humans and animals. The berries on the holly leaves can trigger illness in pets. People often give Lilies and daffodils as gifts around the holidays. However, if you have a cat, you should not have these flowers in your home.

Lilies are very poisonous to cats and will most likely result in death if any part of the flower is consumed, even if it is just a bite. Daffodils can trigger stomach upset in both dogs and cats. Amaryllis, also known as Belladonna, is toxic to pets.

Amaryllis can cause many awful side effects and can even result in death. The plant’s bulb is even more toxic than the flowers and stalk. When it comes to keeping your pets safe, you should not have this deadly plant in the house.

Keep Burning Candles Away from Pets

Burning candles should be kept on high shelves and away from your pet. Cats, in particular, are curious, and a burning candle can result in a dangerous combination. Typically, cats like to knock things over, and if that happens, it will start a fire.

Another point to this is that scented candles are not suitable for pets. Candles made with paraffin can release irritants that cause your pet respiratory distress.

If you must have a candle in your home for the holidays, opt for a flameless candle or one made from the following items:

  • Soy
  • Beeswax
  • Vegetable wax

The above ingredients make for cleaner candles rather than a strong or potent scented candle, which can be a significant source of discomfort for your pet. Certain scents bother your pet more than others.

Which Foods Should I Keep Away from My Pets During Holidays?

We gather together with family and friends during the holidays to eat great food and drink fine wine, and since pets are family, we want them involved in the celebration.

While having your pets join in the merriment is an excellent idea; however, you need to be careful of your fur baby possibly eating something they should not.

The following are all foods you should not allow your pet to have over the holidays:

Turkey Skin and Bones are Not Safe for Pets

Turkey skin is usually laden with seasonings, and it also contains a lot of butter and fat. Another problem is the turkey twine, which is a major cause of intestinal obstruction when consumed by cats.

If your pet chews on or swallows a bone, it can cause intestinal blockage or damage to the stomach. It can also get caught in the throat, making them choke.


Garlic and other allium family members, such as onions, are poisonous to dogs. The main ingredient, thiosulfate, is toxic to them, and thiosulfate causes anemia in dogs.

Studies have demonstrated that it takes about 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kilogram of body weight to generate negative shifts in a pup’s blood. This amount may be a lot of garlic, but every dog reacts differently to garlic.

Garlic is also bad for cats. It can cause anemia, disturbing the gastrointestinal system and triggering vomiting in dogs and cats. The significant risk for them is the destruction of red blood cells caused by anemia.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie contains a great deal of sugar, which is terrible for pets. It also has spices in it that are bad for pets. These include:

  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger
  • Cloves

Nutmeg contains a compound named myristicin, which is toxic to pets. If it is ingested in higher doses, it can even be fatal.


Grapes and raisins are toxic to cats and dogs. If they eat grapes, it can result in kidney failure. Even a single grape can be fatal. Grapes are a popular pre-dinner food item, as they are typically placed on a cheese platter for everyone to eat.

Raisins are often found in many fruitcakes, and many people hate the dreaded holiday fruitcake. Before you pass the fruitcake over to your hungry cat or dog, know that raisins are toxic to pets. Do not feed your pet anything with grapes or raisins in it.


The main ingredient in chocolate, theobromine, is similar to caffeine and can cause rapid heartbeat in cats and dogs. Semi-sweet and dark chocolate is the worst for pets. They have a difficult time metabolizing theobromine, even in small quantities.

Keep your pet away from the candy dish and put all chocolate bars high up on a shelf where they cannot get to it. Consuming chocolate can have fatal consequences for your pet.

How Can I Keep My Pet Safe in the House?

There are many comings and goings in and out of your house during the holidays. Do not let guests leave the door open for your pet to run out. It is cold out there, and you do not want your precious fur baby to freeze.

Make sure that your visitors understand that they need to avoid letting your pet out of the house. It also may not be a bad idea to give your dog or cat a quiet place to retreat if the traffic in your home gets to be too much for them. Pets need time alone too!

How Can I Help My Pet Join in the Holiday Fun?

Pets can have plain white turkey. Do not feed them turkey with seasoning or gravy, as it can make them sick. If you want to give your cat or dog pumpkin, give them plain canned pumpkin. It is good for their digestive health.

Your pet will be able to join in the holiday festivities. Give them plain turkey as the main course and canned pumpkin for dessert. You can even have them eat around the dinner table, as long as your guests agree they will not feed your dog or cat any table scraps.

If it makes you feel more comfortable, make a list of foods that you will not allow your pets to have, and put it on the front of the fridge so that everyone can see.

You can always dress your dog or cat in a cute costume for Christmas. However, if they are not agreeable to this, do not force them no matter how cute they look!

Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season in Winter Haven, FL

Our pets count on us to hold them safe, and the holidays should be no exception. You must keep your pet away from tree decorations, holiday plants, and burning candles.

You can make the holidays safe for your fur babies and allow them to enjoy the festivities by including them at dinner but excluding them from eating food that is only intended for people.

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About Veterinary Healthcare Associates

Veterinary Healthcare Associates in Winter Haven, FL, was established over 30 years ago as Maxwell Animal Clinic by Dr. John Maxwell. Maxwell Animal Clinic was a one-doctor general practice offering preventive care, dentistry, and standard surgical services to the community. As the years passed, Maxwell Animal Clinic evolved into a thriving 10-doctor general, specialty referral, and emergency veterinary practice.