Safety tips to keep your pets happy, safe over the holidays

Michigan Humane Society offers holiday safety tips for pets

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DETROIT - Each year, families across Michigan sit down to celebrate the holidays with festive parties, big meals and colorful decorations.

However, while these traditions are what make the holidays special for all of us, some can be potentially dangerous for our furry friends.

The Michigan Humane Society has the following tips for keeping pets safe during the holiday season:


  • Holiday plants can be harmful or toxic:

    Including mistletoe, holly, Japanese yew, Jerusalem cherry, lilies and the bulb of the amaryllis plant. A common myth is that poinsettias are poisonous to pets – while not ideal, they are not lethal. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet is vomiting, lethargic or foaming at the mouth.

    A list of emergency veterinarians is available at


  • Keep pets away from holiday decorations:

    Never leave pets unsupervised around the Christmas tree. Tinsel, ribbon, and bows - which many cats find irresistible - are choking hazards and can cause intestinal blockages if swallowed. Glass balls may be "fetched" off the tree and break. Also, if you have a real Christmas tree, ingested pine needles can puncture the intestines, so vacuum around the tree frequently.

  • Make sure lights and electrical cords are out of reach:

    Besides the risk of electrocution, the whole tree may topple over.

    Don't spend your holidays imitating the Griswolds!

  • Secure four-legged family members while entertaining:

    More guests mean more chances for a pet to slip out.

    MHS strongly recommends that all pets have identification, including a collar and ID tag, as well as microchip as a permanent, safe and effective form of identification. 

  • Provide a safe, quiet place away from the hustle and bustle:

    Some pets are social butterflies who enjoy the extra activity of the holidays, but others may prefer peace and quiet. Stock the area with their favorite toys, food and water, a litter box for cats and comfy bedding. If they are agitated, soothing music may be helpful.

  • Hold the leftovers:

    A taste or two may be okay for most pets, but a drastic change in a pet's diet can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and require emergency medical attention. Never give animals poultry or steak bones, which can splinter or lodge in the throat, stomach or intestinal tract. 

    Poultry skin can be harmful as well, while onions, garlic, grapes and raisins are dangerous for dogs. And of course, be sure the garbage is secured.

  • Chocolate is poisonous to dogs:

    Chocolate can prove fatal depending on the dog's size and the amount and type of chocolate ingested.

    The safest rule is to keep all chocolate out of a dog's reach.

  • Lighted candles should never be left unattended:

    Especially with animals around.

  • Alcohol and pets do not mix:

    Keep alcoholic drinks where animals cannot reach them.

    If ingested, the animal could become very sick and weak, possibly resulting in respiratory failure.

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