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When it comes to celebrating the holidays at home, many of the things that make the season merry and bright for humans may present potential dangers to our four-legged family members. Dogs may dig into the wrapped box of chocolates placed under the Christmas tree. Curious cats may try (and fail) to scale the towering tree. With so many twinkling and tasty temptations around every corner, ingestions and accidents can lead to unplanned veterinary visits.

Nationwide®, the first and largest provider of pet health insurance in the U.S., analyzed its database of insured pets and released its most common claims for medical conditions that can carry an elevated risk during the holidays.

  • Chocolate & caffeine toxicity – Chocolate is toxic for pets. The increased holiday indulgence among people shows up in pets with 21% of Nationwide’s yearly chocolate toxicity claims showing treatment dates in December.
  • Ingestion of foreign objects – Holiday tinsel, gift wrap, and ribbon are common objects often swallowed by curious pets this time of year and, when ingested, the long shape of each item causes dangerous complications.
  • Poisoning from plant-based items – Seasonal favorites such as lilies, mistletoe, holly, holly berries or pine needles from the Christmas tree present various levels of toxicity. Onions, garlic, raisins, some nuts and marijuana/CBD edibles are also dangerous for pets and may result in serious illnesses.
  • Vomiting & diarrhea – Vomiting and diarrhea may be stress-induced conditions that often manifest around large, busy holiday gatherings. Increased consumption of table scraps featuring rich or fatty foods or drinking chemically-treated water from the Christmas tree stand may also lead to gastrointestinal conditions including pancreatitis, which can be very dangerous and costly to treat.
  • Burns & electric shock – Chewing holiday lighting or electrical cords can lead to electrical shock injuries or burns that may be life-threatening.
  • Lacerations – Broken bulbs or ornaments can result in cuts on paws and mouths. Lacerations may also occur from altercations with unfamiliar dogs or cats that may be visiting during the holidays.

“Festive food and décor should be enjoyed this time of year but a little extra vigilance on the part of pet owners can go a long way to making sure the holidays are safe and happy for everyone in the family,” said Dr. Jules Benson, Nationwide’s Chief Veterinary Officer. “We’ve needed the companionship of our pets more than ever this year but resist those begging faces and avoid sharing table scraps or leftovers! I won’t pretend your pets will thank you for it, but a holiday without a trip to the vet is even more desirable in 2020!”

The costliest conditions to treat from the list above are related to ingestion of items that are not intended to be eaten. Among Nationwide-insured dogs and cats, the average cost to remove a foreign object lodged in the intestine is $2,112 per pet and treatment of a foreign object in the stomach follows at an average of $959 per pet. On the low end of the expense spectrum, treatment of diarrhea and burns come in at an average cost of $226 and $213 per pet, respectively. With Nationwide pet insurance, eligible veterinary expenses may be reimbursed up to 90% based on the member’s chosen coverage.


About Nationwide pet insurance

With more than 880,000 insured pets, Nationwide is the first and largest provider of pet health insurance in the United States. Nationwide pet health insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Columbus, OH, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2019); National Casualty Company (all other states), Columbus, OH, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2019). Agency of Record: DVM Insurance Agency. Pet owners can find Nationwide pet insurance on Facebook or follow on Twitter. For more information about Nationwide pet insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit 

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