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holiday pet safety and safe holiday treats for pets

Making Holiday Memories While Avoiding Pet Emergencies

I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS! I love the entertaining, decorations, songs, parties, family, and friends that make the holidays so fun and warm. But this time of year tends to be crazy at my animal hospital with a lot of emergencies. In fact, the daily emergencies at the hospital nearly double during the holidays. I have been a veterinarian for more than 10 years, so as you can imagine, I have seen A LOT, if not EVERYTHING. Pets eat just about anything. They do not discriminate. And during the holidays, there are temptations around every corner, including a whole list of choking hazards. Holiday pet safety is a real concern. So prepare now to avoid a trip to the emergency vet later!

Today, let’s talk about some of the most “typical” holiday pet emergencies I see. And then I want to share some great ways to celebrate the holidays with your pets. No one wants to be left out of the fun during the holiday season, especially your furbabies!

Holiday Pet Safety Tips

There are many foods we love that are just not good for our pets. They can cause a whole host of conditions from stomach upset to death. Many of these foods are staples at our holiday gatherings. In addition, many fun, holiday decorations and common items pose a threat to your furbabies.

So watch out for them to keep your pets out of the ER this holiday!

Watch Out for These Holiday Foods:

  • Rich and fatty foods can cause problems ranging from stomach upset to more serious illnesses such as pancreatitis, resulting in pain, vomiting, and dehydration.
  • Alcohol can cause intoxication in our pets, and many dogs are attracted to the sweet taste and smell.
  • Chocolate, coffee, and tea all contain dangerous components called xanthines, which cause nervous system or urinary system damage and heart muscle stimulation. Problems from ingestion range from diarrhea to seizures and death. Unsweetened baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the most toxic to our pets.
  • Whole Bones from fish, meat, or poultry, even small whole bones, can splinter and cause tearing throughout the intestinal tract requiring surgery. Ground up bones are fine as a supplement. Be cautious with whole bones.
  • Tobacco products can be fatal to pets if ingested. Signs of poisoning develop within 15 to 45 minutes and include over-excitement, salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea. Pets may develop seizures, collapse and even die from cardiac arrest. Keep all tobacco out of the reach of pets, and make sure to empty all ashtrays regularly.
  • Uncooked yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.
  • Grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener) are toxic for pets.
  • Candy canes, gingerbread people, popcorn, raisins, or cranberry garlands can be enticing to your pet which, when ingested, can cause upset stomach or a more serious intestinal obstruction.

Watch Out for These Holiday Items:

  • Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, and lilies are poisonous for pets.
  • Ribbons, yarn, and string can cause intestinal blockage resulting in the need for surgery or even death.
  • Adhesives, glues, and oil-based potpourri can be toxic.
  • Candles can be knocked down causing fires and burns.
  • Tree needles can be toxic and cause mouth and stomach irritation.
  • Tinsel, when ingested, can block the intestines.
  • Angel hair, flocking, and artificial snow are mildly toxic to pets.
  • Electrical cords can cause problems ranging from burned mouths to electrical shock or death by electrocution. Larger lights can become hot and can also cause burns.
  • Ornaments can result in life-threatening emergencies when ingested. Shards from broken glass can cause serious injuries to paws, mouths, and other parts of the body.
  • Holiday tree water may contain toxic fertilizers and can harbor bacteria.

Creating Holiday Memories With Your Pets This Season

Now that we’ve discussed holiday pet safety and how to stay out of the emergency vet this season, let’s focus on what’s really important. Too often, we get caught up in the chaos and responsibilities of the holiday season, and our pets take a back seat. It is important to set aside some time for your pets during the holiday season. Make sure they get to celebrate with you as well.

And if you have kids, now is a great time to show them how important it is to love and adore your pets, especially during the holidays. I just love creating memories with our pets and children together. So I wanted to show you a fun holiday cookie your pets can actually enjoy!

Holiday Peanut Butter Cookies for Pets


  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups whole wheat flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat pumpkin puree, peanut butter, and eggs on medium-high until well combined, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups flour at low speed, beating just until incorporated.
  5. Add an additional 1/4 cup flour at a time just until the dough is no longer sticky.

Toppings for Decorating

  • Bacon bits
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Shredded chicken bits
  • Small apple bits

Let your kids get creative! Let them cut out different themed holiday and pet designs with cookie cutters. I let mine play around with different toppings and decorate the cookies however they want. Just make sure to avoid the foods listed above and any real cookie toppings with a lot of sugar, like icing or sprinkles. You can even include your pup in the process – please send pics if you do!

Provide Special Healthy Holiday Treats for Your Pets

Another great way to include your pets in the holiday festivities is with delicious foods and treats made just for them using whole food nutrition. Whole food nutrition provides the healthiest and longest life span for your pets. It’s real food from its original source, unprocessed with no artificial additives, preservatives, or chemicals.

Here are some festive foods that are actually good for your pup to eat:


Apples are sweet and COOLING. They are rich in Vitamin C as well as a host of other unique antioxidant and botanical compounds, such as flavonoids. Apples provide soluble and insoluble fiber, some vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and boron. They also promote the secretion of body fluids and moisten the lungs, relieve restlessness, and stimulate appetite.

Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkins are EVERYWHERE during the holidays. It’s great for digestive issues in dogs and can help remedy diarrhea. But it’s also good for relieving constipation in dogs. Dogs requiring a bland diet due to IBS or other tummy issues may benefit from adding pumpkin to their food on a regular basis. Pumpkins contain a lot of fiber, helping your pup feel more full, while being low in calories, fat, and cholesterol.

So they’re great for promoting regularity as well as weight management!

Pumpkins also contain a good amount of beta-carotene, along with magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and C. In addition, pumpkin seeds contain plant-based, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, along with other beneficial nutrients, such as magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc. Studies show promising results linking pumpkin seeds to improved insulin regulation, urinary health (prevention of kidney stones), and inflammation reduction.

Coconut oil

Lately, coconut oil has come back into the spotlight for its health benefits for us, but it’s also great for our pets! When ingested, coconut oil gently elevates metabolism, which is great for weight problems. It also provides a higher level of energy and vitality, protects from illness, and speeds healing. As a bonus, coconut oil improves any dog’s skin and coat, aids in digestion, and reduces allergic reactions.


Be careful with ginger, as it can thin the blood, reduce glucose levels, and reduce blood pressure. But ginger is anti-inflammatory, helping reduce arthritis as well as the spread of cancer cells, as shown in one study. It’s also helpful with heartworm disease, bloat, and nausea.

Final Thoughts on Holiday Pet Safety – Enjoy This Time With Your Pets, Too!

The holidays are about family and friends but also about THE FOOD! We always love to host and serve lots of great food and drinks during the holiday season. There is no need for your pets to feel left out. Let them indulge just like we do! These cute dog treats are a great way to celebrate with your pets this season while also keeping holiday pet safety in mind.

I hope to help you avoid potential dangers during the holidays. Remember, with all of the festivities, do not forget to relax and spend some quality time with your pet. Your dog or cat will think it is the best gift of all!

Happy Holidays!

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