Dangerous Holiday Gifts for Pets

Three Minutes
Apr 24, 2022

The holidays make for a fun and exciting time of year, but for your pets, it can be dangerous. Many common gifts and toys pose a danger to cats and dogs. Here are a few things that are dangerous to your pets and suggestions of alternate items to gift.

Holiday Plants

Many holiday plants are toxic (or dangerous on some level) to dogs and cats, including:

  • Poinsettias 
  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Amaryllis 
  • Jerusalem cherry 
  • Christmas cactus
  • Lilies

Keep your animals away from these plants by setting the plants up high or behind a closed door. If you can, opt for fake plants instead.

Small Toys

Any toys that are small enough to fit inside your pet’s mouth are dangerous, as they pose a choking hazard. Legos and small bouncy balls are two examples of toys that could cause an intestinal blockage or other problems if swallowed. Keep an eye out for stocking stuffer items that are small; they’ll need to be picked up instead of left on the floor during the chaos of holiday mornings. Another potentially dangerous item is any toy kit that has a lot of small pieces and needs to be assembled. Assemble toy sets like this on a table instead of the floor.

Wrapping Paper

Gift wrap is dangerous because it can cause an intestinal blockage if enough of it is consumed. Ribbon, yarn, bows, and string may result in choking and can also cause a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract. Clean up wrapping paper and ribbons as soon as a gift is opened.

Beauty Products

Items such as makeup, nail polish, and shampoo can be extremely harmful to your pet. Many types of soap, shower gel, lotion, and other bath items contain ingredients that are highly toxic to animals; some types of nail polish can upset your pet’s stomach. Makeup applicators like beauty blenders can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction if eaten and mascara sticks or makeup pencils can do even more damage if they splinter after being swallowed. Even a hair straightener or curling iron can be dangerous because of the high temperature. If you receive beauty products, you can still enjoy pampering yourself, but make sure you have a secure place to store your makeup — and don’t invite your dog into the room on self-care nights.

Food and Alcohol

Many people enjoy gifting food items at Christmas, such as homemade cookies, buckets of popcorn, or bottles of wine. In the large majority of cases, the food you receive during the holidays is not going to be safe for pets. Don’t feed your dog or cat human food without doing careful research first, and when in doubt, always skip the treat and let your pets stick to their kibble.  That being said, there still might be a few holiday foods that your pet can eat.

Snow Globes

Some snow globes have a substance called ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic; others contain antifreeze. As little as one tablespoon of antifreeze can be fatal for a cat. It’s extremely important to keep snow globes far out of reach and take special care not to break them because most pets will be tempted to lick up the liquid if a snow globe is broken.


Fuzzy socks are a fun and popular gift for humans, but can be dangerous to animals: A dog who likes to chew, for instance, can make quick work of a pair of socks. If your dog has eaten a sock, you’ll want to call the vet right away. Ideally, however, you’ll prevent this from happening — as soon as you open a gift with socks inside, put them away in a drawer. Or simply put them on your feet!


Popular as a hostess gift, scented candles smell delicious while they burn, but no cozy atmosphere is worth burns or a house fire. Candles are dangerous to pets in several ways: They can cause burns, they can set other items on fire if an animal knocks them over, and in some cases, the candle itself can actually be toxic if ingested. Keep candles up high and blow them out before leaving the room. You can also opt for natural candles with no artificial fragrances or even use something else altogether to make your home smell nice, such as a wallflower that plugs into an outlet.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.