I have had several veterinary guest bloggers on this site — and I’ve even met some of them in person at BlogPaws conferences — but so far have not featured anyone local. Which is just wrong. We have some terrific veterinary facilities in town, including the award-winning Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson (VSCT), the largest veterinary multi-specialty practice in southern Arizona. In my defense, I did highlight a wonderful VSCT charitable program, Cause For Paws, here.

So it brings me great pleasure to host VSCT’s co-founding owner, Barbara R. Gores, DVM, Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons, addressing a very timely topic. Dr. Gores also provided all the accompanying photos. She is not responsible for the smart alecky captions.


Six Tips for Keeping Pets Safe for the Holidays

by Dr. Barbara Gores

A favorite time of year for human family members, the holiday season is often dangerous time for our beloved pets. Holiday visitors, turkey bones, table scraps, candy, decorations and gift wrappings are just some of the dangers that dogs, cats and other household pets face this time of year. Pet owners must be proactive to ensure their pet’s safety.

Six top ways to keep your pets safe include:

1. Keep pets indoors and secured in a quiet part of the house during holiday parties and events to prevent accidental escape through doors that are being used frequently.

But do let them greet your guests to show off their holiday finery first

2. Keep pets away from open candle flames to prevent burns  [EJ: and to prevent burning down the house].

3. Secure electrical cords, holiday lights, dangling decorations, and tinsel to prevent electrocution or intestinal obstruction from chewing or eating these “tempting” items.

4. Supervise pets during the unwrapping of gifts.  Although ribbons and string are inviting toys to dogs and cats, they can cut through your pet’s intestinal tract in 24 hours or less if ingested.

5. Keep all candy, especially chocolate, away from pets, as it can be toxic and even fatal if ingested. While chocolate is delicious and may even be beneficial for people, it contains caffeine and theobromine which affect the heart and nervous system of dogs and cats. It can be toxic and even deadly. Diet treats such as sugar-free gum and candies that contain xylitol can be fatal if ingested by cats and dogs. It’s important to caution young children not to drop or share these goodies with their four-legged friends.

Don't listen to what the vet says, even if it's for my own good. Do you think I would allow myself to be dressed like this if I didn't expect candy?

6. Keep leftovers away from pets. Poultry bones are notorious for splintering and causing severe intestinal distress, blockage and injury. Rich fatty foods such as gravies can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even pancreatitis. Even “healthy” foods like granola and trail mix can harm Fido and Fluffy because many contain raisins, which contain an unknown toxin that can damage your pet’s kidneys, causing renal failure and death. And macadamia nuts contain a toxin that can attack the nervous system, muscles and intestinal tract.

So go that extra little bit this season.  Remember to safeguard the well-being of your fuzzy friends.  It will make for best holiday season imaginable!


Dr. Barbara Gores  became a Board Certified Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1996. In the same year, she was honored with the Mary Mitchell Award for Advancement of Veterinary Medicine for the successful development of the second feline kidney transplantation program in the United States at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1999 she joined Arizona Veterinary Surgery in Tucson, Arizona. In 2004, she became a co-owner and built the Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson. To read more about Dr. Gores, see her VSCT staff listing.

14 thoughts on “Six Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe for the Holidays”

  1. Re #1 Plus, locking your pet in an unused room is a great way to discover which of your guests is snooping through your house! 😉

  2. Hey Edie, just finished reading Am I Boring My Dog. GREAT. Is it too late to order two copies? Thanks. And how do I give you my payment info?

    1. Thanks — very glad you enjoyed it! It’s never too late to order more — whether they get to your destination in time for the holidays is another question. I’ll email you to discuss what you want to do and how to transfer extra postage via PayPal.

  3. Edie, like Jess, I received my signed copy of Am I Boring My Dog?. Thank you for the book mark. Went right to the feeding section; HA – it is OK to feed once a day (I knew this but the dogs, as you note, are skeptical).
    Good reminder post though people food is not an issue here, poor doggies.

  4. Just a general comment- had to say how ridiculously Cute Frankie is. Insanely. Like he doesn’t know – just look at those rascally eyes! Frankie, may you enjoy many (tiny) little bits of awesome Christmas Dinner as they “accidentally” hit the floor right by your feet.

    1. Frankie thanks you — on both counts, especially the second. He does have a way of trying to make those “accidents” happen, looking up at me with soulful “I’m starving” eyes…

  5. Pingback: Tucson: pet events, shop, safety tips - Tucson Tails
  6. We used to have a cat that would eat the Christmas lights on the tree while they were lit! Talk about multiple things that could have gone wrong there! We stopped putting them low on the tree but he would find a way to eat some of them anyway.

  7. I like the idea of keeping your pets indoors and secured in a quiet part of the house during holiday parties. I should add that to my list of seven safety tips

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