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Festive lights, fragile ornaments, and sweet treats all play a big role in many of our holiday celebrations. While these holiday staples may spread joy, they can also lead to something not so merry for your pets– an emergency trip to the veterinarian. 

Before you deck the halls in your home, check out these tips from Santa Barbara Humane for keeping pets safe during this holiday season. 

Be careful with seasonal plants. Poinsettias, holly, ivy, and mistletoe make lovely holiday 

decorations, but they are toxic if your pet ingests them. So, either keep your festive plants outside or place them somewhere in your home that your pet cannot get to them. 

Pet-proof your Christmas tree. Christmas trees and the ornaments hung on them can be quite alluring for pets in your home. Anchoring your tree can stop it from tipping if your curious cat decides to climb it. To prevent your ornaments from being batted, chewed on, or broken, hang them out of reach on the tree’s upper limbs. 

Be wary with wires. If your pet likes to chew, be mindful of how you power your holiday lights. A wire can deliver an electrical shock if chewed, and a chewed-on battery could leak and cause burns to your pet’s mouth and esophagus. 

Skip the tinsel. Shiny tinsel may look like a toy to your cat or dog. But tinsel is surprisingly strong and does not break down well in the digestive tract, so it may become stuck in your pet’s stomach or intestine if ingested. It may be best to skip this decoration if you have a pet in the household. 

Keep holiday sweets out of reach. Holiday treats can be tempting for everyone — including our pets. Unfortunately, chocolate, grapes, raisins, currants, and the artificial sweetener xylitol can all cause serious health issues in cats and dogs, so it’s best to keep holiday sweets away from your pet’s reach.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, Santa Barbara Humane is the oldest animal welfare agency in Santa Barbara County, serving the community for over 135 years. The organization’s two campuses in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria provide low-cost veterinary care, affordable dog training, 

adoption, and socially-conscious sheltering for local animals, whether they are with a loving family or at the shelter waiting for a home of their own. Because Santa Barbara Humane does not receive any federal funding, it relies on donor support to help thousands of animals and families each year in Santa Barbara County. 


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