Keeping it danger-free for the howlidays

The best gift you can give your dog this year is to ensure that any of the typical holiday dangers in the home – certain plants, foods, ornaments, and decorations – are out of reach, and a trip to the emergency vet doesn't happen, says an article at

Top of the list is chocolate. The article notes that not only do dogs have an excellent sense of smell and can sniff out the delicious human treat, but their teeth and claws enable them to get into an errant bag left on a coffee table.

But on top of that, chocolate covered espresso beans can have a fatal amount of caffeine; chocolate macadamia nuts can render a dog temporarily paralyzed, while chocolate raisins can cause kidney failure, says the story. Even without the chocolate, the beans, nuts, and raisins are bad news for dogs' health.

Other foods that can get your pup into health trouble are the fattening meat scraps that can cause pancreatitis, and sugarless gum, candy, or desserts with xylitol can cause a spike in insulin and potential liver failure, says the article.

Unbaked bread dough and fruit cake can cause GDV or secondary alcohol poisoning. That means take a pass on those fruit cakes soaked in rum that Aunt Marg always makes, which we know is super hard to do.

So the poinsettia danger has been overblown and are rarely fatal, but can cause mild irritation, says the article, but European mistletoe can be very toxic to pets

Meanwhile, holly can cause intense vomiting, and pine needles produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling, and posterior weakness, says an article at

Tinsel is a no-no, says the article noting it can cause severe injury or even be fatal if ingested.

"Bright and colorful tree ornaments can attract your pet's curiosity," the story adds. "Place glass, aluminum, and paper ornaments higher up on the tree. Pets can chew and swallow these fragile objects, and not only can broken pieces form sharp edges that may lacerate your pet's mouth, throat, and intestines, they could also create a choking hazard."

Holiday lighting could be very attractive for chewing and thus a risk of electrical shock, says the story. And lit candles should be placed well out of reach or not used at all.

For those of you who think it's cute to decorate your dog with ribbon, think again – it's a choking hazard.

And under the tree, make sure the dog doesn't have access to the water keeping it fresh; it's a breeding ground for bacteria, says the aspa

"Looking to stuff your pet's stockings? Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible," says the aspca story.