The holidays are a time full of excitement and activities for families. But there are certain things that could cause harm to dogs and cats during the holiday season, including commonly exchanged toys and gifts.

Small Toys

Any toys that are small enough to fit inside your pet’s mouth are dangerous, as they pose a choking hazard. Legos and small bouncy balls are two examples of toys that could cause an intestinal blockage or other problems if swallowed. Keep an eye out for stocking stuffer items that are small; they’ll need to be picked up instead of left on the floor during the chaos of holiday mornings. Another potentially dangerous item is any toy kit that has a lot of small pieces and needs to be assembled. Assemble toy sets like this on a table instead of the floor.

Food and Alcohol

Many people enjoy gifting food items for the holidays, such as homemade cookies, buckets of popcorn, or bottles of wine. In the large majority of cases, the food you receive during the holidays is not going to be safe for pets. Don’t feed your dog or cat human food without doing careful research first, and when in doubt, always skip the treat and let your pets stick to their kibble.  That being said, there still might be a few holiday foods that your pet can eat.

Holiday Plants

Many holiday plants are toxic (or dangerous on some level) to dogs and cats, including:</p?

  • Poinsettias
  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Amaryllis
  • Jerusalem cherry
  • Christmas cactus
  • Lilies

Keep your animals away from these plants by setting the plants up high or behind a closed door. If you can, opt for fake plants instead.

safe and unsafe holiday gifts for petsWrapping Paper

Gift wrap is dangerous because it can cause an intestinal blockage if enough of it is consumed. Ribbon, yarn, bows, and string may result in choking and can also cause a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract. Clean up wrapping paper and ribbons as soon as a gift is opened.

Beauty Products

Items such as makeup, nail polish, and shampoo can be extremely harmful to your pet. Many types of soap, shower gel, lotion, and other bath items contain ingredients that are highly toxic to animals; some types of nail polish can upset your pet’s stomach. Makeup applicators can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction if eaten and mascara sticks or makeup pencils can do even more damage if they splinter after being swallowed.

Snow Globes

Some snow globes have a substance called ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic; others contain antifreeze. As little as one tablespoon of antifreeze can be fatal for a cat. It’s extremely important to keep snow globes far out of reach and take special care not to break them because most pets will be tempted to lick up the liquid if a snow globe is broken.


Contact the vets at Croton Animal Hospital for more information.