Pet Owners Cautioned on Holiday Hazards for Animals in Watertown

by Lisa

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – With Christmas approaching, a stern reminder goes out to pet owners to remain vigilant about the potential dangers lurking in festive decorations and treats for their furry friends.

Wade Rutledge, a responsible pet owner, emphasizes the importance of monitoring what his dog, Makyiah, consumes. Rutledge, driven by the memory of his late dog Cleo, who succumbed to a liver abscess, maintains strict control over Makyiah’s access to certain foods.


“I’m very restrictive of what she has access to,” Rutledge stated.


Certain common household foods pose severe threats to the well-being of cats and dogs. Rutledge pointed out grapes as a perilous item, having potentially contributed to his previous dog’s liver issues due to frequent consumption. Onions, garlic, and chocolate are among other human foods that can be harmful to pets.


Marissa Murphy, a veterinary practice instructor at Jefferson-Lewis BOCES, warns about the increased risk during the holiday season, especially with chocolate more readily available. She highlights the potential oversight of leaving chocolate unattended, making it accessible to pets.


For dogs, sugar-free gum can be particularly dangerous due to an ingredient called Xylitol, capable of causing severe complications, including kidney issues.

“Xylitol and sugar-free gum – it can shut down a part of their bodies and their kidneys,” Murphy explained.

Beyond food, various plants commonly associated with the holiday season can be toxic to animals. Murphy advises caution with poinsettias, lilies, holly, and mistletoe, recommending that pet owners keep these items out of reach.

Additional precautions extend to pets like rodents, reptiles, and birds. They should be kept away from electrical wires and Christmas lights to prevent potential electrocution hazards.

“If you suspect your pet ate something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or a pet poison control center,” Murphy advised, underlining the importance of seeking professional assistance in case of ingestion concerns.


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