The Hidden Dangers of Christmas

Keeping your furry friends safe on the big day

It’s that joyous time of year again, and although we want to keep the festive fun at an all-time high, there are a few things we need to consider to minimise the dangers for our furry friends.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing offers her advice on how to avoid your furry family member running into trouble across the festive period: “There are many hidden hazards that we don’t realise could be harmful to our four-legged friends. However, being aware of the risks is the first step towards prevention, which is why we’ve put together a list of some of the main dangers to look out for this Christmas.

Decorative dangers

“Tinsel, dangling baubles and fairy lights look lovely on your Christmas tree, but they can be irresistible to our pets. Smashed baubles can cut paws and tinsel can potentially cause life-threatening blockages resulting in emergency treatment. Pets investigating fairy lights can be at risk of cut mouths or even electrocution from them – battery powered LED lights kept well out of their reach are the safest option.

Presents and gift wrap

“Ribbon and gift wrap can be choking hazards or cause blockages for cats and dogs alike, so be careful when placing gifts underneath the tree. It’s easy to forget about other hazards from gifts too – many children’s toys aren’t designed to be pet-friendly, and if loose parts or batteries are swallowed, they could have fatal consequences. Edible presents will soon be hunted out but might not be pet safe so it’s best to keep them out of reach and be sure to clean up any wrapping paper before any curious paws can get hold of it.

Toxic plants

“While it is appealing to spread Christmas joy to your interior by decorating with a whole host of plants, it is important that you know which ones to avoid, as some can be toxic to our furry family members. Avoid placing poinsettia, mistletoe, holly and ivy within easy reach of pets – although they bring a lot of traditional festive cheer to the house, they can make animals ill if they decide to nibble on them!


“We’re all guilty of overeating and overindulging ourselves at Christmas, but over-feeding your puss or pooch can cause serious health issues. Some human foods can be toxic to our pets and lead to sickness, diarrhoea or even pancreatitis. It’s best to stick to healthy pet-safe treats for your four-legged friend this Christmas and keep up the exercise and playtime to stop them from piling on the pounds.

A full house

“For many pandemic pets after the lockdowns in 2020, this will be their first Christmas – and while it is a very exciting time of the year, it can also get busy with relatives and friends popping over. Provide somewhere safe and quiet for your furry friend to escape to – try building a doggy den in a quiet room of the house and add a few pet-friendly toys too. Cats feel safest when they’re high up and out of the way, so give them a cosy place to curl up on top of a secure shelf or cupboard. For small pets, move their enclosure into a quiet room away from loud visitors and TVs or music systems.

PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. This winter, your support is vital for poorly pets – find out how you can help us give pets a fighting chance at

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2 thoughts on “The Hidden Dangers of Christmas

  1. Stell R Star says:

    Thank you for this helpful article. I know Jackson Galaxy also has a good video on YouTube about keeping a kitty safe during Christmas. He says that Christmas trees are hazardous in many ways: pine needles which fall off the tree can get in a cat’s digestive system, tree water is toxic, etc..

  2. Jen says:

    Thank you for this reminder. I knew about the Pointsettia but not the other plants. I have no plants in my flat and I did not put up a tree this year as the kitties have a habit of making it a big chew toy

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