Virginia Parkway Pet Hospital

5080 Virginia Parkway, Ste. 600
McKinney, TX 75071


Winter Holiday Hazards For Pets

Be careful how you deck your halls! The holiday season is generally a time of family togetherness in which even our pets participate. One's thoughts generally are far from thoughts of injury; however, one must be aware of some important seasonal hazards in order to insure a happy holiday season.


These are of special interest to playful cats and kittens who see these materials as toys (or prey) to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing pose no health threats, chewing and swallowing do, as these strings or "linear foreign bodies" can catch in the GI tract, leading to bunching of intestine as the body tries in vain to move the string or ribbon through. This is a life-threatening condition requiring surgery for correction. Never let your pet play with string without supervision.


  • Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers, which, if ingested, can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water can be breeding grounds for bacteria, which can also lead to vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, if ingested.

  • Electric cords are tempting to cats who like to play with string as well as to puppies who are interested in chewing. If a pet bites through an electrical cord, it could result in electrocution and a severe burn to the tongue which causes the pet's lung to fill with fluid, causing respiratory distress or death. This is also an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.

  • Batteries contain corrosives. If ingested they can cause ulceration to the mouth, tongue, and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Glass ornaments can cut the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract if ingested.

  • Potpourris are popular household fragrances commonly used during the holiday season. Pets are often exposed to liquid potpourri by direct ingestion from simmer pots or spills, or by rubbing against leaky bottles or simmer pots containing the potpourri, or from spilling the containers upon themselves. Oral exposures result following grooming. Exposure of pets to some types of liquid potpourris can result in severe oral, dermal, and ocular damage. Dry potpourri generally doesn't cause those issues, but there may be problems due to foreign body and (possibly) toxic plant ingestion.


Many people do not realize that chocolate can be a poison. Unsweetened baking chocolate carries a much higher dose of the toxin "theobromine" than does milk chocolate, but even normal milk chocolate can be dangerous; a small dog sharing candy can wind up in big trouble. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperexcitability, nervousness, vomiting, seizures, and death.


Consuming this festive-looking plant can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of the dog or cat that chews on or eats it. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia is not specifically toxic.


The fact that there are several types of mistletoe makes it difficult to predict the clinical signs of poisoning. Some mistletoes produce only stomach upset while others may lead to liver failure or seizures. Consider mistletoe to be a hazardous substance and keep it inaccessible to pets and children.


Many types of lilies, such as Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer, and the Casa Blanca, can cause kidney failure and death in cats.


Keep pets out of the kitchen during the hustle and bustle of the season. The last thing you want is for someone you love to get underfoot and get burned from spillage.


Although we all like to include our pets in Holiday meals along with the rest of the family, sudden rich diet changes are likely to upset a pet's stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea may result. If leftovers are of an especially fatty nature, the pancreas may become inflamed. This condition, called pancreatitis, is serious and may require intense treatment.




Virginia Parkway Pet Hospital
5080 Virginia Parkway, Ste. 600
McKinney, TX 75071


FAX (972)540-9815

For after hours emergencies: 

Collin County Emergency Clinic 
(214) 547-9900