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Christmas Dangers For Pets

Christmas is a time of celebration and festivities for the whole family, including the family pets. However, there are also a lot of hidden dangers for our pets from toxic plants and foods, to decorations and gifts that you may not have considered. Pets are inquisitive and when your home is filled with a variety of unusual shiny and sparkly things, your pet will want to investigate. Dogs, in particular, are known to be scavengers of food and whatever piques their interest. Let’s keep our pets safe this festive season by being aware of the potential dangers.


  • Chocolate - toxic to dogs can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases death

  • Macadamia Nuts – weakness, tremors, hyperthermia, vomiting, and kidney failure.

  • Grapes and the dried version of sultanas and raisins found in mince pies and Christmas cake, even a small amount can cause kidney failure.

  • Onions and garlic - vomiting, diarrhea, and attack red blood cells causing anemia

  • Artificial Sweeteners - especially Xylitol can cause death

  • Cooked Bones - whether from a turkey or the braai, bones can splinter and cause an obstruction in the stomach or even pierce the stomach lining.

  • Leftover/Mouldy food - bread, cheese, and dairy items can cause vomiting and convulsions in dogs, make sure that all rubbish is put away and stored safely where it is not reachable.

  • Alcohol - just like you they can become shaky and sick, even more so, they can become hypothermic and go into a coma, clean up all spillages, and do not leave open bottles unattended.


  • Christmas trees - real or fake pine needles can cause cuts to the mouth and stomach and even perforate the stomach lining. For cats, they are a climbing temptation and one that can cause a tree to topple and cause a lot of damage.

  • Baubles - secure safely to the tree, a dropped and rolling bauble is a big temptation for a dog to chase and bite on- can shatter in their mouths and cause severe cuts and blockages in the stomach

  • Tinsel - for tinsel-eating dogs, it can cause a blockage in the stomach or intestine requiring a life-saving operation. Cats love to tangle with tinsel and unfortunately can get caught up in it causing injury.

  • Tree Lights - chewing through a cable can cause a nasty shock

  • Wrapping paper - some dogs just love it and eating a lot of it can cause obstruction in the bowel. Make sure all Christmas paper is put straight into the recycling bin.


  • Festive plants – although not hugely popular in South Africa Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Ivy can cause diarrhea and vomiting if ingested

  • Lilies – this is a popular flower and if eaten can cause convulsions and even death for both cats and dogs.


  • Food presents - especially those containing any of the foods mentioned above should be kept safely out of your pets’ reach and not under the tree.

  • Kids Gifts - small toys that squeak and have movements are a huge temptation for a dog to investigate and swallow. Lego blocks are the plastic popcorn of the dog world. These can cause obstructions that require operations.

  • Batteries - more batteries are ingested than you would think. This can cause chemical burns and metal poisoning to your dog! Keep batteries and small toys with batteries out of reach of your dog.

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