Christmas is a time of plenty – plenty of social events, plenty of joy and plenty of food and
decorations! Our feathered, scaled and furry pets often like to join in the fun – but not everything
that is safe for us, is safe for them!
Christmas decorations often contain toxic metals like zinc or copper. Birds in particular are drawn to
the sparkly ornaments, and when eaten can cause kidney damage, nerve dysfunction and vomiting.
Some animals will eat non-toxic parts of ornaments (bearded dragons are very interested in new
food), and these can cause foreign body obstructions in the gut. The loops that are used to hang
tree ornaments can wrap around beaks, legs and tails and cause constrictive damage. Christmas
candles can be a fire risk – we have had a case in which a bird’s tail caught on fire – as well as
causing respiratory irritation when heavily scented or very smoky.
Electrical burns and electrocution are a risk with Christmas lights. Our pets can be fascinated by the
light show. Even when unplugged, the electrical cord will contain copper, which will be toxic if
The standard food avoidance recommendations apply, including chocolate and coffee (these affect
heart rate and rhythm) and alcohol. Avocados are in season at the moment, and these can be toxic
for birds. We advise avoiding them for all species.
Safe toys and treats for your pets are made from cardboard, paper and non-toxic wood, with child-
safe, non-toxic dyes used to colour them. Stainless steel clips and hooks can be used to secure toys
to cages and enclosures, although care must be taken to ensure that your pet cannot get a mouth or
beak caught on a hook, and become trapped.
We’d love to see pictures of your pets with safe Christmas treats and toys.