Vatterott Educational Centers, Inc.

Home » Uncategorized » Hang Your Stockings (and Mistletoe, Holly, Tinsel, Etc.) with Care… for Your Pets!

Hang Your Stockings (and Mistletoe, Holly, Tinsel, Etc.) with Care… for Your Pets!

From Urban Legends to Real Dangers, Vatterott College’s Dr. Nancy Wolfe-Bay Talks

Holiday Pet Safety-Proofing Your Home

Vatterott College’s Veterinary Technician Program is urging pet-parents to think of their furry loved ones’ safety during this holiday season, and to remember they are not humans!

“Pets are often referred to as our ‘best friend’, and with good reason–they make us laugh and brighten our day,” says Nancy Wolfe-Bay, DVM, Vatterott College – Fairview Heights Veterinary Technician Program Director. “The problem is, when we see our pets as just another member of the family we can sometimes forget that there are distinct differences between our little (or big!) furry friends and ourselves. There are many fun aspects of the holidays that can harm animals, such as certain foods and objects we wouldn’t even think could actually be a real threat to an animal’s safety.”

Pets can be particularly susceptible to dangers during the holiday season when many unfamiliar objects, such as decorations, are out on display and there are many more parties and celebrations happening in the home. Dr. Wolfe-Bay has provided these tips for keeping your pet out of harm’s way:

Put the human treats in high places

Chocolate is a well-known poisonous item for pets, particularly dogs. However, there are a number of other treats that should be kept out of your pet’s range of vision as well. Macadamia nuts can cause harm to pets, as well as raisins (so keep the fruit cake in a safe place) and grapes. Xylitol, a naturally occurring substance found in a wide variety of sources such as berries, oats and many artificially sweetened items, is also extremely toxic to pets and should be kept out of sight.

Skip the holly, mistletoe and flower bulbs

Holly, mistletoe and flower bulbs (lilies in particular) can be poisonous to pets! If ingested, these plants can cause severe stomach problems. It’s best not to keep these plants in the house, but if you must, either put them in a place you can ensure your pets won’t get to them or use a synthetic version. Poinsettias are often listed as a highly toxic plant for pets, but in actuality that’s an urban legend from the 1900s. Poinsettias are only mildly toxic and at most will cause an allergic reaction to sensitive individuals.

Be careful of unattended alcoholic drinks

If you and your guests are drinking alcohol while your pet is around, make sure that no drink is left unattended. Pets have sneaky ways of getting into things they’re not supposed to and alcohol can be poisonous.

Watch the tree

If you celebrate with a Christmas tree there are several ways to ensure the tree is safe for your pet. First, anchor your tree so that it does not tip and fall when your pet is nearby. If your tree is real be sure to keep pine needles off the ground, they are sharp enough to puncture intestines if eaten by a pet. Also, watch the water inside the tree stand — bacteria can grow there that is harmful to pets. It’s also wise to be careful with any additives added to the water.

Forget the tinsel

Tinsel is very attractive to pets since it’s shiny and fun to play with. The problem is that pets are also likely to try to eat tinsel, and again it can do a number on their intestines. Do your pet (and yourself) a favor and don’t use it.

Be careful of decorations

Decorations on trees, especially edible ones, can be really intriguing to pets which will lead to tugging at trees, etc., so keep them up high on the tree. Candles can be a safety hazard as well, pets can knock them over and burn themselves, so either keep them in a safe place or use artificial ones.

Although there are a lot of things to keep an eye on when looking out for your pet’s safety during the holidays, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and be festive. Taking small precautions such as keeping the floor clear, using artificial plants and watching where you place your food and drinks can keep a pet safe without sacrificing your holiday cheer.

Vatterott College-Fairview Heights offers a Veterinary Technician degree program in which students can expect to receive instruction from industry professionals. Courses include animal nursing, clinical pathology and animal diseases. Graduates will possess skills in the handling and restraint of animal patients, nursing care, veterinary office procedures, sterilization, radiology, pharmacology, hematology, blood chemistry, parasitology, microbiology procedures, anesthesia and surgical assistance. For more information click here.


About Vatterott College

Vatterott College has been dedicated to providing quality career training to students seeking the skills to advance in their field since 1969. Vatterott, with its headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, has campuses across the Midwest. Diploma, associate and bachelor degrees are offered in trade industries and computer technology, with 20 locations across seven states and online programming. To learn more, please visit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: