How to keep Christmas safe for your pets

Some of the traditional Christmas treats and objects around the house and garden will be enticing to your pets but are very hazardous to their health. These are listed below, along with some of the everyday items that can cause harm to your furry loved ones.


  • Chocolate contains theobromine, a stimulant which is toxic to animals. Even in small doses, chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and excessive thirst. In large doses it can lead to abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and death.

  • Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs. Symptoms include repeated vomiting, lethargy and low mood. So no Christmas pudding your pets.

Puggy pudding dog hat
We recommend a Puggy Pudding hat instead of real figgy pudding for your pup. Available on Etsy.

  • Milk and dairy products can cause diarrhoea and other digestive upsets in both cats and dogs, and can also generate some food allergies.

  • Cooked bones can splinter easily and damage your animal's throat and intestines. And keep the meat scraps free of gravy and marinades.

  • Lollies and sugar-free sweets can contain Xylitol which is highly toxic to pets. It can cause lethargy, liver failure, loss of balance, permanent brain damage and even death.

  • Raw fish and tuna contains thiaminase, an enzyme that destroys thiamin, which is essential to a cat's well-being. The lack of it can lead to neurological disorders, including weight loss, weakness and uncoordinated movements.  A little tuna is okay, but in high doses can lead to mercury poisoning.

Christmas decorations

  • Round, ball-like decorations, if broken in the mouth, can cause lacerations to the tongue and intestines and require surgery. Edible treats hung as ornaments can be harmful if consumed.

  • Tinsel, if eaten,can obstruct theintestines. Symptoms may include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, listlessness and weight loss.

Keep decorations safe from pets

Heat Stress and fireworks

It is vital that animals have constant access to both water and shade, as heat stress can develop extremely quickly in hot weather. On New Year’s Eve, it’s best to stay home with your pet and provide them with a comfortable environment. If you won’t be home, make sure your pets are safe, secure and comfortable. Whenever possible, bring them indoors.

Dog and fireworks meme 

Insecticides, pesticides and fertilisers

Insecticides and pesticides can be life-threatening to dogs, even when ingested in small amounts. Products that contain organophosphates and snail and slug baits are extremely toxic. ‘Pet friendly’ snail baits include a bittering agent which acts as a deterrent, but some pets will still eat the baits. 

Organic fertilisers that contain blood meal, bone meal, feather meal and iron may be especially tasty – and dangerous – to dogs. Large doses can cause severe pancreatitis. Mouse and rat poisons are highly toxic, and eating poisoned rodents can result in internal bleeding, brain swelling, kidney failure, or severe vomiting and bloat.


Never give your cat human medication. Antidepressant medication can cause animals to become sedated, uncoordinated and agitated or get tremors and seizures. To be safe, put all medications in a drawer or cupboard that your pets can’t access. And never give your pet another animal’s medication.

Flea treatments

Flea and tick treatments work well for dogs, but the pyrethrum in dog powder can be highly toxic to cats. Always read treatment labels carefully and don’t use treatments which contain pyrethrins or pyrethroids, a derivative of the Chrysanthemum flower.


  • Christmas flowers and plants such as amaryllis, holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are poisonous to pets.

  • Lilies, including Asian, Day, Easter, Glory, Japanese Show, Peace, Red, Rubrum, Stargazer, Tiger and Wood lilies are toxic to cats, causing kidney failure and even death. Even drinking water from a vase with lilies can cause severe poisoning. Early symptoms are vomiting or diarrhoea. You need to go straight to the vet if you think a lily is to blame. Some varieties are also toxic to dogs.

  • Azaleas and rhododendrons contain toxins that may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, coma, and potentially even death in dogs. Tulip and daffodil bulbs cause serious stomach problems, convulsions, and increased heart rate.

Azaleas are poisonous to cats and dogs. Image source

P.S. If you have an animal medical requirements or emergency, we recommend you go to your nearest Veterinarian Clinic / Hospital. Or if you are near Sydney metro area you could contact the Sydney University Veterinarian Teaching Hospital on (02) 9351 3437 or visit their website for more information


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