Holiday Pet Safety: 19 Items to Avoid – Digestive Health

Keep Your Pet Safe During the Holidays

Deck the halls, the ho-ho-holiday season is finally here! If you include four-legged friends in your holiday celebrations, it’s important to make sure your pet stays safe.

Let’s take a closer look at pet digestive health during the holidays, and how you can keep your furry friends happy and healthy while you celebrate.

Table Scraps: Just Say No

Even if he’s been a very good boy, your cat or dog shouldn’t eat table scraps. Those pleading puppy dog eyes can be very convincing, but most human foods aren’t good for your pet’s digestive system. Some can actually be dangerous.

kid at table with dog at christmas dinner

Dogs and cats need a carefully balanced diet with the right nutrients. Most commercial pet foods are designed to meet their dietary needs. Feeding your pets extra food from the table disrupts that careful balance and can lead to trouble in the digestive system. It can also cause weight gain, which can lead to other health problems.

Traditional holiday foods are especially bad for your pet’s stomach. Rich, fatty, sugary foods can cause many problems, including upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea.

Well-meaning friends and family members may not know the risks and could accidentally give your pet something dangerous. It’s perfectly fine to ask your guests not to feed your pet anything.

There are some human foods that are OK to feed as occasional healthy pet snacks:

  • Bites of plain cooked turkey, beef, pork or fish; no skin, bones or seasonings
  • Peanut butter (NO xylitol, which is toxic to dogs)
  • Raw pumpkin
  • Cooked plain vegetables (no onions or garlic)
  • Sweet potatoes, cooked without any seasonings, butter or oil
  • Raw vegetables such as carrots, celery, lettuce and cabbage hearts (no onions or garlic)

Foods to avoid giving your pet

Don’t give pets any of the following foods:

  • Onions or garlic. Onions and garlic contain components that can damage red blood cells in cats and dogs when eaten in large amounts. Smaller quantities can cause an upset stomach.
  • Xylitol. Xylitol can be fatal to pets. Candy, toothpaste, peanut butter and other items often contain xylitol, so it’s important to keep them out of reach of your pet. If your dog or cat ingests xylitol, immediately take them to a vet.
  • Chocolate. Chocolate is one of the most common causes of pet poisoning. Serious complications can include heart arrhythmias or even seizures.
  • Sugary sweets. Sugar can upset a cat or dog’s stomach.
  • Nuts. Avoid walnuts and macadamia nuts, as they are toxic to pets. Other nuts to avoid include almonds, pecans, pistachios and hickory nuts.
  • Grapes and raisins. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in pets. Warning signs include vomiting and overexcited behavior.
  • Nutmeg. Often used in eggnog and baked goods, nutmeg can be lethal to pets. Call your veterinarian right away if your cat or dog eats something with nutmeg.
  • Dairy products. Animal’s bodies aren’t made to break down lactose, so dairy products can cause acute intestinal distress.
  • Alcohol. Unattended drinks and spilled liquids are common causes of pets ingesting alcohol.
  • Bones. Fish and poultry bones can hurt a pet’s digestive tract or cause choking.
  • Fat. Fatty foods can cause upset stomach and pancreatitis in pets.

Non-food dangers to your pet’s digestive health during the holidays

Holiday decorations are fun and festive, but they pose a risk for pets. From breakable ornaments to holiday plants that are poisonous to pets, here are some holiday items to watch out for:

cat under christmas tree
  • Christmas tree. A Christmas tree is tall, heavy and full of breakable ornaments. Curious pets will try to explore, so make sure to securely anchor the tree so it doesn’t fall over. Tree water may contain toxic fertilizers, and stagnant water could breed bacteria that could sicken pets who drink it.
  • Ornaments. Broken ornaments can injure paws. Shards can cut an animal’s mouth. If fragments are ingested, they can get stuck in a pet’s digestive system.
  • Boughs and branches. Holiday greenery looks beautiful, but if your pet chews on fir branches it could irritate the mouth. Loose needles can cause intestinal blockages or puncture wounds if swallowed. Needles can also get stuck in your pet’s paws.
  • Holly, mistletoe and lilies. Keep these plants safety out of reach of pets. Holly can cause drooling, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if eaten, and mistletoe can cause upset stomach and cardiovascular problems. Lilies are associated with kidney failure in cats.
  • Tinsel. Cats love playing with shiny tinsel, but if they accidentally ingest it, it can cause an obstruction in the digestive tract. Severe vomiting, dehydration and surgery are possible.
  • Candles. Lighted candles are a fire hazard and a safety risk for pets who might get burned. Make sure to put candles out when you leave the room.
  • Electrical wires. Electrical cords from Christmas lights can cause electrical shock if chewed on.
  • Batteries. Teeth can puncture a battery, which can burn the mouth and esophagus.

How to help your pet’s stomach feel better

Despite your best efforts to keep your pet healthy and safe, your furry friend may still wind up with digestive problems during or after the holidays. There are natural remedies that can help your pet safely feel better. Here are some of our favorites:

Natural Moves™ for Pets™ for Bowel Regularity is an herbal supplement for symptoms of constipation and bowel health in cats and dogs. It supports regular bowel movements and maintains digestive health.

Digestive Support™ for Cat & Dog Digestion is an herbal supplement for cat and dog digestive tract health and symptoms of gastritis. It supports functioning of the stomach lining, esophagus and digestive tract, and promotes GI tract health.

Parasite Dr.™ for Cat and Dog Digestive Detoxification is an herbal supplement for pet digestive health. It promotes digestive health and detoxification, and reduces yeast overgrowth in the intestinal tract.


The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with your pet, but be aware of the risks this time of year. Follow the holiday pet safety tips above to make sure you and your pet have a safe and happy holiday celebration.

Related Links: Seasonal Stress and Your Pet

1. “These Naughty Holiday Foods Can Be Hazardous For Dogs.” Accessed November 30, 2022. 2. “Holiday Safety Tips.” ASPCA. Accessed November 30, 2022.

3. Williams, C. “Tummy Troubles During the Holidays.” Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation. Accessed November 30, 2022.

4. “Holiday Foods to Avoid Feeding Pets.” Family Veterinary Clinic. Accessed November 30, 2022.

5. “Feeding Table Scraps – Do or Don’t?” Accessed November 30, 2022.

6. “7 Interesting Facts About Your Dog’s Digestive System.” PetMD. Accessed November 30, 2022.

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