Some holiday foods can be quite dangerous to pets, such chocolate and cocoa, candy and sugarless gum that contain xylitol, yeast bread dough, leftover fatty meat scraps, and fruit cakes with raisins and currants. The fruitcake threat can be compounded if the cake is soaked in rum or another alcohol. Alcohol poisoning in pets can result in a dangerous drop in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature, potentially leading to seizures and respiratory failure. Please make guests aware that only dog or cat treats are allowed and stick to their regular diets!

Over the years, the relative toxicity of poinsettias has been exaggerated. If ingested by a dog or cat, the sticky white sap usually causes only minor mouth or stomach irritation. Christmas cactus can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and the spiny leaves of the Christmas or English holly can cause irritation and damage to pets’ stomachs and intestines. While serious complications aren’t likely with holiday plants, it’s still best to keep them out of pets’ reach.

Tinsel should be banned from households with cats. It looks like a shiny, fun toy to cats, but when ingested, tinsel can wrap around the tongue or anchor itself in the stomach making passage through the intestines impossible. Matters are made worse when the intestines contract and move, as tinsel can slowly cut through the tissue and cause severe damage to the intestinal tract. For all these reasons, it’s also best to keep ribbon, yarn and thread stowed away.

Liquid potpourris are dangerous too. They typically contain cationic detergents and essential oils that, if consumed by a cat, can cause severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing and tremors. Dogs are not as sensitive to the chemicals, but its best to keep potpourri out of their reach as well.