Kingsbury Animal Hospital

420 North Skinker Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63130


Happy Holidays
from the entire staff of
 the Kingsbury Animal Hospital !!

Winter Holiday Hazards For Pets

Holidays should be a time for joy. Exercising some prudence and care can keep it that way.  Winter is a wonderful and beautiful season. The ice covered ponds, snow capped trees, children sledding and making snow angels. With a little care and precaution, pet hazards can be avoided and the winter can be thoroughly enjoyed.  Here are some tips for keeping your pets out of danger during the holiday season.

AVOID Holiday Food Items That Could Cause Problems For Your Pet

  • Alcoholic beverages (can result in ethanol poisoning)
  • Chocolate (baker's, semi-sweet, milk chocolate) is toxic. Keep sweets out of a pet's reach. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, and even a single ounce of pure chocolate can be lethal to a small dog. Dark and unsweetened baking chocolate are the most dangerous. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, hyperactivity and seizures.   Don't forget about the hazards associated with chocolate candy wrapped in aluminum foil or mesh netting that can be trapped in a pet's digestive system.   By the way, white chocolate has little poisoning potential.
  • Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans)
  • Grapes and raisins cause kidney failure !
  • Macadamia Nuts cause temporary rear limb ataxia and paralysis
  • Moldy or spoiled foods can cause mycotoxin or aflatoxin poisoning
  • Onions, onion powder can result in Heinz body anemia
  • Fatty foods
  • Salt causes hypernatremia.  If the dog does not vomit after ingesting, toxicity could result.
  • Sylitol as an artificial sweetener can cause hypoglycemia and serious liver effects.
  • Yeast dough as it's rising can result in ethanol toxicity.
  • Turkey bones left in an accessible place are almost irresistible to pets, but they can lodge in an animal's throat or block the intestinal tract. Remove leftovers from the table and don't leave garbage where animals can get to it.
  • Hops from making homemade ale, whether spent or not, can cause symptom's of malignant hyperthermia.  Sighthounds are especially vulnerable ! 


  • Lilies that may be found in holiday flower arrangements could be deadly to your cat. Many types of lily, such as Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer, and the Casa Blanca, can cause kidney failure in cats.
  • Poinsettias are generally overrated in toxicity. If ingested, poinsettias can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, and may cause mild vomiting or nausea.
  • Mistletoe has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems. However, mistletoe ingestion usually only causes gastrointestinal upset.
  • Holly ingestion could cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy.


  • The natural smell of a Christmas tree attracts pets. But remember that needles (even artificial ones) are indigestible. So, keep your pet away from the tree (using a baby gate in the doorway or low lattice fencing around the tree itself) and secure it so he can't knock it over. 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.  Don't use preservatives in the stand water. They can be toxic if consumed by a thirsty pet. Carefully cover the top of the stand with a tree skirt so your pet can't get to it.
  • Artificial trees pose their own hazards. Small pieces of plastic or aluminum can break off and be swallowed, causing intestinal blockage or irritation to the mouth.
  • Lights can get very hot remove them from the lower branches of the tree so they won't burn.
  • Electric cords- Avoid animal exposure to electric cords. If they were chewed, they could electrocute your pet. Cover up or hide electric cords, never let your pet chew on them.  Make sure electrical cords are out of reach, taped firmly to walls or floors. Chewing on wires may cause burns or pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), which can be fatal.
  • Ribbons or tinsel is dangerous. Its sharp edges can cause cuts in the mouth. If a pet swallows a piece of tinsel, it can block intestines, causing decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, listlessness and weight loss. Treatment usually involves surgery.
  • 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.  Don't use edible ornaments or fragile, easily breakable glass decorations to trim the tree. Your pet may knock over the tree trying to get to them and your dog may decide they're toys and cut himself trying to play with them.  Don't use angel hair. It's made of spun glass and can cause irritation on contact.  Don't use wire ornament hooks that can easily snag an ear or a tail, or, if swallowed, can lodge in the throat or intestines. Instead, fashion loops of yarn, ribbons or light weight twine. And be careful not to leave any of that lying around.
  • Liquid 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.


Keep all prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs out of the reach of your pets, preferably in closed cabinets. Pain killers, cold medicines, anticancer, drugs, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills are common examples of human medication that could be potentially lethal even in small dosages. One regular strength ibuprofen tablet (200mg) can cause stomach ulcers in a 10-pound dog. Remind holiday guests to store their medications safely as well.

During the holidays, we will be having some limited office hours. In some cases, you may try to medicate your animals without our veterinarian's advice. Never give your animal any medications unless under the directions of a veterinarian. Many medications that are used safely in humans can be deadly when used inappropriately. Less than one regular strength acetaminophen tablet (325mg) can be dangerous to a cat weighing 7lbs.