ASK THE ER VET! Blaire Burggren, DVM, Olympia Pet Emergency

Dear Oly Pet ER:

We’re having family over for a few weeks over the holidays and we’re decorating! Are there certain things we should keep in mind to keep our pets safe? Are there any decorations or goodies we should avoid? We’re excited to host our family, but we’re worried about keeping our animals safe and happy, too!

Sincerely, Overwhelmed in Olympia.


We’re worried about keeping our pets safe during the holidays!

Dear “Overwhelmed:”

Your question is a good one! All holidays have specific items and traditions that can be dangerous to our four-legged family members. I’ll touch on some highlights here, holiday by holiday:

Many of us associate Thanksgiving with food (or overindulgence)! Foods such as fatty leftovers, turkey bones, chocolate, nuts, and bread dough are in abundance and can cause serious health risks to pets if they are exposed. Additionally, alcohol, and prescription and recreational drugs may be around and do present a significant risk. Christmas may be the most concerning of holidays due to the variety of toxic plants (poinsettia, holly, mistletoe, and the Christmas tree itself) and decorations (tinsel, potpourri, ornaments, ribbon, and candles).

Although a slowly dropping, well-lit large red apple is not toxic itself, alcohol and fireworks are the main concerns associated with New Year’s Eve.

I hope this brief list provides you with a starting point when planning ahead for this holiday season. Family gatherings are exciting, but pets have a unique role in the family and their needs and safety sometimes get overlooked with all of the excitement. The take-home message is to plan ahead and be prepared. Avoid what dangers you can and have a brief conversation about your pet’s needs and safety as part of your family gathering. An example: “Remember Grandpa, Fluffy is not allowed to have any scraps this year, and please don’t leave any chocolate out where she could get to it.” Finally, have the phone number and hours of operation of your primary care practice documented, and a pet poison control service’s and your local emergency practice’s number handy.

Think ahead so “Yule” be safe!

Oly Pet ER


Olympia Pet Emergency provides compassionate and quality emergency care for companion animals. Call them at (360) 455-5155 or visit their website at for more information.