General holiday tips for pets

It’s that time of the year again when we get into the holiday spirit when the ornaments and trees are brought out.

But real and artificial trees can be hazardous in your home.

Please remember to keep trees out of the reach of children and any pets.

This blog will be geared more towards birds since they breathe with air sacs and are more sensitive to scents and stress.

Information from this blog can be used for other pets (ie dogs, cats, other exotics).


Stressors & scents to AVOID:


→ Trees [real and/or artificial] (even the ones without fire-retardant coating, fertilizer, insecticide)
→ Plants, holiday plants (ie poinsettias, hollies, mistletoes)
→ Environmental changes- new sights, sounds, and smell of the holidays with lights, music, food, and other new pets
→ Decorations (ie tinsel, artificial snow, lights, ribbons)
→ Electrical wires (confused as chew toys)
→ Potpourri, air fresheners (plug-ins, sprays, stick-ons), candles, adhesives, glues, perfumes/colognes, scented cosmetic products
→ Stoves, fireplaces, cleaning products, cooking (oven, oven bags for meat, non-stick cooking surfaces and cookware such as Teflon)
→Plastic on the windows that heats up with the hair dryer
→ Ribbons/rubber bands/hair bands- do not tie them on your pet or the cage or leave them lying around. Any inks or metals used on gift wraps and/or ornaments can be toxic and choking hazards.
→ New treats and toxic food/candy: (ie any kind of chocolate, sugary cookies, salty snacks, alcohol)

Most birds need ~10 to 12 hours of darkness for proper rest; therefore, any increased activity of too much light will disrupt your pet’s routine and sleeping schedule. Also, by going out and running errands (shopping/entertaining/or traveling) leaving your bird alone or changing the routine with playtime, feeding, and maintenance will be disturbed. Your pet may feel left out or have tremendous anxiety from being alone.

Visitors coming and going whether strangers, relatives, and other pets make it a scary time for birds. Your pet will react abnormally when approached. Your pet may bite, scream, pick at its feathers, have a decreased appetite, and abnormal droppings.

How to solve this?


Try to maintain feeding and hygiene routines. Provide pet(s) with toys, pacifiers, and a good cage cover to regulate light and help with time out from stressors. Isolate pet(s) away from new people or loudness. Remain calm even if an emergency happens and contact a veterinarian right away if there are any issues that arise.

If you have a tree at home, there are a few tips you can follow to ensure safety:

  • Keep birds in a different room from the tree and not close to the kitchen.
  • If a natural tree is used, freshly cut the tree base before putting it in the stand and immediately place in water. Keep the water level full at all times, checking the levels daily.
  • Place the Christmas tree away from heat sources (ie- space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, televisions, computer monitors)
  • Check all Christmas tree lights, other electric decorations and electrical appliances for wear and tear (ie-frayed cords).
  • Unplug tree lights and decorations when out of the room or sleeping.
  • Place the Christmas tree clear of doors, packages, and furniture to keep the emergency escape route clear


Thank you for your interest in this blog. Please consult your veterinarian for further questions/concerns. I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday😊

-Dr. Wu, DVMA Treasurer & CVMA Delegate, December 2018

*Pictures posted with permission from MC. Pictures and content are the property of FPH.

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