How to Avoid the Vet – Holiday Edition

The holidays are a special time of year where everything can go perfectly right, or disastrously wrong. We don’t like seeing our patients sick, especially over something that could be prevented, and especially when you and your pet should be enjoying themselves! Here are a few pointers to help you and your furry friend have a stress-free holiday.


One of the most common problems we see after any holiday involving a dinner is vomiting/diarrhea. This is usually a result of being fed fatty/high calorie foods. It’s easy to think that Fluffy deserves something tasty during this special time of year, but ‘small’ treats, especially given several times over the course of an evening, is a massive feast for a small animal. Large amounts of rich food will upset anyone’s stomach, so limit the treats and make sure your guests do too!

It’s important to remember to make sure any dirty dishes and bags of trash are also kept away or out of your pets reach as they make decide to ‘help’ clean up when you go to bed!


  • Fatty/high calories foods
  • Bones – may damage teeth or cause an obstruction in the intestines
  • Alcohol/marijuana products
  • Onions, garlic, leeks, chives
  • Grapes/raisins
  • Unbaked yeast dough
  • Xylitol



If you’ve ever owned a cat, you may well be aware of the dangers with them and Christmas trees! Some cats can’t resist the temptation to climb a glittering tree with toys dangling for them to swat! Make sure if you have a tree, that it is well secured to not fall over. You may also want to make sure that the water in the tree stand is covered, so pets don’t drink from it and become sick.

String, ornaments, and wires, should all be tucked away or secure so that pets do not ingest or chew on them. Tinsel should be avoided in households with cats as it is very easy for them to play with it and swallow, leading to an obstruction.


  • Poinsettias – not as toxic as people seem to believe, the sap from these plants is very irritating, which may cause drooling and vomiting.
  • Mistletoe – certain varieties may cause drooling, vomiting, and/or diarrhea if ingested.
  • Christmas Cacti and Holly – if ingested, may cause drooling
  • Amaryllis – ingestion of the leaves, stem, or bulb can lead to drooling, vomiting, or bloody diarrhea. Rare cases can cause restlessness, tremors, or seizures.
  • Japanese Yew – This evergreen shrub is sometimes used in wreaths or other decorations. When the needles dry and fall off, they sometimes will be ingested by pets. A few grams is enough to cause tremors, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and sudden heart failure. This plant should be avoided in any household with pets.
  • Lilies – a common gift around the holidays, a ‘true’ lily is extremely toxic to cats. Direct or non-direct exposure (some cats can rub up on the plant, have pollen drop into their coat, and then groom the pollen off) can result in kidney failure. Cats that have been exposed to lilies should receive aggressive veterinary care within the first few hours of exposure. Cats that do not receive treatment within 18 hours of exposure are more likely to have a worse outcome. We do not recommend cat households to have lilies.


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