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Pet-proof your home this Christmas: warning for new dog and cat owners

  • Festive foods, drink and plants can be toxic to cats and dogs.
  • Pet owners are urged to be careful in their choice of Christmas decorations.
  • Antifreeze, frozen water, and frostbite – white Christmas hidden dangers for pets.
  • GoCompare Pet Insurance offers tips on how to pet-proof your Christmas.

With more time spent at home because of the Coronavirus restrictions and social contacted limited, many have people become first-time cat and dog owners.  Most lockdown pets will still be very young, inquisitive, and prone to mischief and about to experience their first Christmas.    

The sudden appearance in their home of a Christmas tree adorned with dangling ornaments, colourfully wrapped parcels and plates of festive food left out on a side table may prove irresistible to curious kittens and playful pups.  But, from toxic foods and plants to dangerous decorations, the festive season presents many dangers to cats and dogs.

To help ensure that all the family has a happy Christmas, GoCompare Pet Insurance is urging owners to pet-proof their celebrations.

Christmas trees, decorations and presents

For cats, Christmas trees are marvellous for climbing and make great places to hide and sharpen their claws.  Dogs may also find them irresistible, especially those hung with chocolate or gingerbread decorations or surrounded by presents containing food or interesting smells.    

To help avoid accidents, make sure your tree is secured in a sturdy base and if possible, attached to a wall.  Fallen needles should be vacuumed-up daily – they can cause a stomach upset if eaten and sharp points can cut pets’ paws and mouths.    

Avoid glass baubles which can easily shatter if knocked off the tree or chewed.  Edible tree decorations, particularly those made of chocolate, which is poisonous to cats and dogs, should also be avoided as should salt-dough decorations.  If your cat or dog is a chewer, tape down the electrical cord to fairy lights.

Traditionally Christmas presents are left under the tree.  But, with a new puppy or kitten in the home this may not be a good idea. Dogs do not always distinguish between food and non-food items and may eat any decorations or presents that look or smell appealing to them.        

Holly, mistletoe berries, poinsettia, and lilies are toxic to cats and dogs.  So, if you have them in your home make sure they are out of your pet’s reach, while holiday candles are easily knocked over by a wagging tail or a leaping kitten. 

Festive foods and drink  

Don’t be lured by those puppy dog eyes into sharing a turkey drumstick with your pet.  Cooked turkey bones are brittle, and splinter easily so have the potential to cause choking, a blockage or puncture in a pet’s digestive system.  Onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots are toxic to cats and dogs so you should not feed them any stuffing or bread sauce.         

The dessert table also contains dangers for pets.  Grapes, including dried forms – raisins, sultanas and currants, are poisonous to pets so Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies should not be shared with them.  Chocolate, some types of nuts and artificial sweeteners are also harmful to our four-legged friends so should be kept well out of their reach.

Alcohol is also poisonous to cats and dogs, so do not leave beverages where they can access them and wipe-up any spills.

Staying safe on winter walkies

Antifreeze and rock salt used to grit roads are both toxic to pets.  So if you walk your dog through an area where people have defrosted their cars or on roads or pavements which have been gritted, make sure you wipe their paws as soon as you get home.   

Ice and snow can get trapped between a pet’s paws, leaving them at risk of frostbite.  So, if they are outside in icy or snowy weather, make sure to check their paws when back home.  

If you walk your dog near a lake, or river which may be frozen over, keep your pet close to you.  While the surface of the water may appear solid, it may have areas of thin ice which your pet could fall through.

Sally Jaques from GoCompare commented, “Sadly, many traditional Christmas decorations and foods are harmful to pets.  Some can make cats and dogs very ill or, could prove fatal.  So, when decorating their homes, pet owners need to consider their pets’ safety.  Also, those who want to share their Christmas dinner with their pet need to careful what they plate-up for them.  Safe foods include lean meat, plain boiled potatoes, carrots, peas, and Brussel sprouts – although owner may regret the effects of the latter!   

“Pet poisonings are one of the most common emergencies vets deal with and many incidents happen while pets are in their own home.  If you think you pet eaten something which may be harmful, call a vet straight away and let them know what your pet has eaten, how much of it and when.   It is easier for a vet to treat a poisoned animal sooner rather than later.  If your pet is insured, firms typically provide a 24-hour helpline to deal with medical emergencies.”  

For more information on pet insurance visit our guides page; https://www.gocompare.com/pet-insurance/guide/


For further information please contact:

Gordon, Jason or Liz at MAW Communications on 01603 505 845

Keep up-to-date with GoCompare on Twitter; @GoCompare

Notes to editors


GoCompare is a comparison website that enables people to compare the costs and features of a wide variety of insurance policies, financial products and energy tariffs.

GoCompare does not charge people to use its services, and it does not accept advertising or sponsored listings, so all product comparisons are unbiased. GoCompare makes its money through fees paid by the providers of products that appear on its various comparison services when a customer buys through the site.

When it launched in 2006, it was the first comparison site to focus on displaying policy details rather than just listing prices, with the aim of helping people to make better-informed decisions when buying their insurance. GoCompare has remained dedicated to helping people choose the most appropriate products rather than just the cheapest, and has teamed up with Defaqto, the independent financial researcher, to integrate additional policy information into a number of its insurance comparison services. This allows people to compare up to an extra 30 features of cover.

GoCompare is the only comparison website to be invited to join the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

For more information visit www.gocompare.com and www.gocogroup.com