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Pet insurance company shares tips for a safe holiday season


Nationwide disclosed its most common claims and average costs for medical conditions at high risk during the holidays

HBS / stock.adobe.com

HBS / stock.adobe.com

To make the holiday season a relaxing and joyous time, it’s important to keep safety protocols in place at home with pets. Nationwide Pet Insurance suggested veterinary professionals remind clients of the risks that come up more frequently during the holidays and while at holiday parties, in an organizational release. The company also warned pet owners of these common risks and revealed that insurance claims are mostly submitted around this time of year along with the average cost for each of these medical concerns.1

“The majority of holiday-related health hazards are preventable, which is great news, but it does mean taking some extra steps to ensure that everyone in the family can safely enjoy traditions,” said Jules Benson, BVSc MRCVS, AVP, vice president, Pet Health, and chief veterinary officer at Nationwide in the release. “When it comes to preventing holiday health emergencies, it’s important to consider your pet’s personality. Our data shows that certain breeds and younger pets are at a higher risk for things like foreign body ingestion. Pet parents should also take time to see their house from their pet’s perspective and pet-proof accordingly.”1

After analyzing a database of more than 1.2 million insured pets, Nationwide found these top 5 common holiday hazards:1

  • Ingestion of foreign objects: Tree ornaments, tinsel, ribbons, gift wrap, and garlands could pose a potential risk if ingested and may cause serious complications.
    • Reported average claim for foreign body ingestion: $2,400
  • Chocolate & caffeine toxicity: Chocolate is usually a well-known pet toxin, but the abundance of chocolate during the holidays makes this a common hazard and heightens the risk. According to Nationwide, 20% of claims for chocolate toxicity are submitted in December, with numbers doubling in the last 2 weeks of the year alone.
    • Reported average claim for chocolate toxicity: $618
  • Alcohol toxicity: Similar to chocolate, alcohol is another well-known toxin for pets, but the increased volume of alcohol in the house can increase the risk of toxicity cases and emergency room visits.
    • Reported average claim for alcohol toxicity: $869
  • Poisoning from plant-based items: Common holiday plants like amaryllis, mistletoe, holly, holly berries, or pine needles from a Christmas tree present various levels of toxicity. Marijuana and cannabis-based edibles, oils and other products containing THC or CBD may also cause illness. In an interview with Audrey Wystrach, DVM, chief executive officer at Petfolk, she explained the effects plant poisoning can have on pets: “Gastrointestinal upset and vomiting are the most common side effects. Escalated concerns around amaryllis and mistletoe come with more severe side effects that include changes in blood pressure, tremors, or even seizures.”2
    • Reported average claim for plant, plant-based poisoning: $610
  • Burns & electric shock: Chewing on string lights or electrical cords can lead to electrical shock injuries or serious burns. Open flames, like candles, should also be used with caution.
    • Reported average claim for burns: $180

Safety tips

To help with pet-proofing for the holidays, Nationwide recommended pet owners asking themselves these questions:1

  • What is at their pet’s eye level?
  • What could be knocked over by a leaping cat or an enthusiastically wagging tail?
  • Are there exposed wires or cords, low-hanging ornaments, candles, tree water, plants or floral arrangements, candy dishes, food items, garland, or anything else that pets may find new and exciting and want to play with or chew on?

Overall, Nationwide also recommended blocking off areas that might prove too tempting, and crate pets that might get into mischief when you leave the house.1


  1. Davis K. Protect your pets from common, and potentially costly, holiday hazards. News release. Nationwide. December 6, 2023. Accessed December 8, 2023. https://news.nationwide.com/protect-your-pets-from-common-and-potentially-costly-holiday-hazards/?utm_source=prn
  2. McCafferty C. Keeping pets safe for the holidays. dvm360. December 15, 2022. Accessed December 8, 2023. https://www.dvm360.com/view/keeping-pets-safe-for-the-holidays
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