Top 5 Common Thanksgiving and Holiday Hazards for Pets

Posted - November 20, 2023

By Carol Bryant, Professional Pet Blogger

With the holidays in full swing, keeping an even closer eye on our precious pets is critically essential. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reported a 22 percent increase in calls from pet parents between 2021 and 2022.  

Experts want pet parents to be aware of unexpected pet toxins lurking in their homes, especially during the holiday season.  

You can print and save this list for safekeeping and share it with all your pet-loving family, friends, and co-workers. Knowing these hazards will ensure you and your pets have safe, enjoyable, and memorable celebrations.  

Autumn Leaves 

Problem: Though it may seem fun and harmless, allowing your dog to roll in leaves carries many lurking dangers. These include sharp sticks, thorns, ticks and fleas, pesticides, chemicals, and even the excrement of other animals. Foxtails are a weed-type grass that can cause serious problems if dogs step on them, ingest them, or inhale them.  

Solution: If your dog happens to roll in leaves, do a thorough check of their skin and coat. Teaching your dog to ‘leave it’ comes in handy, too. Keep a bottle of ZYMOX® Advanced Enzymatic Shampoo and Advanced Enzymatic Conditioner on hand for quick baths and thorough, gentle cleansing without harsh chemicals.  

Seasonal Allergens 

Problem: Like people, our pets can be affected by seasonal allergies that correspond with changes in the environment. This includes things like pollen, mold, dust mites, weeds, grasses, and trees. Dogs go outside to go potty or for walks and bring the allergens back into the home on their paws and coats. 

Solution: In addition to keeping your pets groomed and brushed regularly, consult with your veterinarian. There is a difference between allergies and sensitivities, and your veterinarian can get to the bottom of what’s making your pet itch, scratch, or have any number of symptoms. They may offer allergy tests, over-the-counter or prescription medication. 

Dangerous Foods  

Problem: Most folks know that chocolate, onions, and grapes are toxic to dogs, but many other foods and ingredients can harm our beloved pets. For example, salt dough ornaments contain a lot of salt, which can harm or kill your pet. 

Table scraps may seem harmless, but Thanksgiving turkey or gravy may be full of fat, which can lead to dangerous pancreatitis. Homemade cookies are also popular, but they may contain xylitol, a dangerous sugar substitute to pets. 

Solution: Don’t feed your dog or cat things they aren’t used to or that you are unclear of the ingredients. This includes caffeine, alcohol, and table scraps. The American Veterinary Medical Association also warns pet parents to avoid turkey skin.  

Ear Infections  

Problem: The last thing any pet parent wants to deal with during the holidays is an ear infection. Pets can get an ear infection from weather changes (moist environment) to access to tinsel or décor that can get lodged in their ear. Pet parents get busy during the holidays and may forget to clean their pet’s ears.  

Solution: Set a reminder to keep your pets’ ears clean with ZYMOX Enzymatic Ear Cleanser to gently soothe and clean dirty ears. Since no antibiotics are involved, your dog or cat won’t be exposed to any harsh ingredients. Do an ear check at least once or twice weekly on your pets by smelling and looking at the canals. 

Decorations and Lit Candles 

Problem: Even the best boys and good girls may find wrapping paper, tinsel, ribbons, and lit candles tempting. Cats may try to climb your Christmas tree, and dogs often find the most hazardous items to be edible (ex: batteries, water from tree stands, ornaments, etc.) 

Solution: Consider purchasing flameless candles on Amazon in lieu of lit candles to avoid burns and fire hazards. Use baby gates to keep prying pets from presents, trees, and other temptations.  

Bonus Pet Dangers During The Holiday Season 

In addition to the five most common holiday hazards for pets, here are a few more pet dangers to keep in mind: 

  • Open doors: Guests coming and going means open doors and opportunities for pets to escape 
  • Holiday plants and flowers: Poinsettias and other seasonal décor can pose life-threatening risks to pets.  
  • Stress and anxiety: Guests coming and going and changes in routine can stress even the coolest cats and calmest dogs out. Allow pets access to their own space.  
  • Cold weather: Frostbite, hypothermia, and exposure to antifreeze can be life-threatening. 
  • Bones: Giving your pets bones from the turkey or ham may be tempting, but they can splinter and cause intestinal blockage. 

Have a happy, safe holiday season, and be sure to share your holiday pet photos with us on social media.

About the Author

Arden Moore

Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant as a “dog lover of the highest order” when she and her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, appeared on Oprah Radio. Carol is well-known in the pet industry, having appeared on television, radio shows, and podcasts, as well as in articles from CNN and Yahoo to Dogster and She is the founder of the award-winning blog and is the Immediate Past President of the Dog Writers Association of America.


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