Kids & Pets
September 18, 2020
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Holiday hazards for pets

By: Mickey Zeldes
December 20, 2019

The week before Thanksgiving I posted on Facebook a list of foods that are not safe to share with your pets.  These foods are common around the upcoming holidays too, so it bears repeating; the list includes onion and garlic, turkey bones and twine, chocolate, bread dough, candied yams, stuffing, raisins and grapes, and alcohol (see our Facebook post for the complete list.)  What was interesting were the comments that people posted. 

People were ridiculing anyone dumb enough to give their pets these things but lots of people treat their pets like little people and feel they need a holiday “treat.”  Also it’s not a matter of giving these things to the pet but rather the animal getting into, or taking, these things on their own!  Ever lived with a “counter surfer?” My friend lost her Thanksgiving turkey one year that way.  Talk about a sick dog and a mess on the carpet – not to mention several hungry guests! Ever gone to bed without cleaning up completely from a party with the intention of doing it in the morning?  Ever not completely closed the garbage can?  Pets can be sneaky….and determined!  

In addition to food items there are a lot of holiday decorations that can be dangerous to our pets.  Mistletoe and tinsel can be risky to cats.  Candles left unsupervised can be a danger to the whole family if a curious pet tips it over.  The hooks that hold ornaments onto the tree can do damage if ingested (never use a food or food-scented ornament).  The water in the tree base is quite nasty and can get a pet sick if they drink it so be sure to keep that part covered.  I once received a gift of handmade dog-bone magnets that disappeared from my fridge fairly quickly, varnish and all!  Gift-wrapping does not hide the scent of baked treats from the powerful nose of a dog or cat! Don’t make the mistake of leaving those presents under the tree or you will have a rude surprise in the morning.  And lots of baked goods contain alcohol hidden them.

There was a recent sad post about a dog that had gotten into a tin of sugar-free chewing gum and died.  Xylitol is used in many sugar free items and is toxic to dogs.  Look carefully at ingredients if you buy sugar-free items (including toothpaste and mouthwashes) and store them well out of reach.  Who would even think that chewing gum would appeal to a dog in the first place!  Another little realized risk is the bags that chips and cookies and other treats come in.  Way too many dogs have died a tragic death by suffocation when they went after the last few crumbs in a bag.  The joke about being so dumb you couldn’t find your way out of a plastic bag is not funny when it comes to our pets.  Be sure to transfer all chips into plastic containers and cut apart the bags before throwing them out.

With holiday parties, home decoration, and tons of food everywhere, it takes extra care and management to keep everyone safe.  But forewarned is forearmed so they say!  Look around your festive house and make adjustments where needed and it will be a safe and merry holiday season for all.


Upcoming Events

“Home for the Holidays” adoption special – Name your own adoption fee!  Goes on through Dec. 31 on all animals.  Now is a great time to check out our “inventory” – and we still have kittens!!


Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at