It’s the season of good cheer, which means parties, gifts, treats and other festivities.

But as you enjoy yourselves this Christmas, make sure your pets stay safe and sound.

Try to follow these safety tips and keep your pet’s eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. Steer them clear of unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations.

Christmas tree

Anchor your Christmas tree securely so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet.

This will also prevent the tree water — which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upsets — from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhoea.

Tinsel trouble

Cats love tinsel. To them, it’s a sparkly, light-catching ‘toy’ that is easy to bat around and carry in their mouths.

But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can then lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

Festive treats

You know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising pet will go to find something yummy?

Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and any unattended plates of food. Also secure the lids on your garbage cans.


If you’re looking to stuff your pet’s stocking choose gifts that are safe.

Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallow the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines.

Stick with chew toys that are indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods, or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible.

Long, stringy things are a cat’s dream, but the most risky toys involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines.

Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer — and play sessions together.

Problem plants

When ingested, holly can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems.

And many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats, if ingested. Opt for artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.


Fatty, spicy and ‘no-no’ human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills.


Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over.

Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface.

And if you leave the room, put the candle out.


Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of a pet’s reach.

A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock, while a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus. Shards of ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth.

House rules

If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention while you’re tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.


Make sure all of your medications — and that of your guests — are locked behind secure doors.


If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, place any unattended alcoholic drinks out of reach of pets.

If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

A room of their own

Give your pet his/her own quiet space to retreat to — complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle.

Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.

New Year

As you count down to New Year, keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines if ingested. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears.

Jodi Corbett is the humane education officer for the Bermuda SPCA, 32 Valley Road, Paget. Contact 236-7333 x 205 or see

By Jodi Corbett BermudaSun