Holiday pet dangers revealed

Pet owners are more likely to take their pet to the vet for medical treatment during the holiday season

Brea, Calif.— Last year, Nationwide pet insurance members spent more than $41 million on medical conditions commonly associated with the holiday season. During the four days surrounding Christmas Day and New Year’s Day last season, pet owners took their dogs and cats to the veterinarian more often than the rest of the year to treat these medical maladies.

Common medical conditions associated with the holiday season. Based on claims from Nationwide’s database of 700,000 insured pets during the timeframes of Dec. 24-27, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2017 - Jan. 3, 2018.

Average Cost to Treat

Average daily increase of claims vs. the rest of the year

  • Tinsel, ribbon or other foreign body ingestion (surgical removal)



  • Food/plant toxicity (from raisins, nuts, lilies, etc.)



  • Chocolate toxicity



  • Drug toxicity or overdose



Dangerous Ingestions

The holiday season increases the opportunity for pets to get their paws on harmful foods, drinks and decorations. The most common toxic treats that Nationwide insured pets ingested last holiday season were chocolates, nuts and raisins. In fact, 30 percent of all Nationwide pet insurance claims for chocolate toxicity occurred during the Christmas and New Year’s Day timeframe.

Some pets prefer to munch on non-digestible holiday items including tinsel, ribbon, gift wrap and ornaments. Ingestion of such items can lead to surgery, which is the most expensive medical condition on the holiday list with an average treatment cost of $1,803 per pet.

If a pet consumes toxic food or a foreign object, he or she should be taken to a veterinary hospital immediately. In preparation, pet owners should locate the nearest 24-hour emergency animal hospital prior to any holiday celebration.

“We encourage pet owners to be aware of the dangers that surround our pets during the holiday season,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary officer for Nationwide. “Food or sweets left on low-lying tables can be a major hazard and holiday decorations can easily become a harmful toy for household pets. Pet owners should take extra precautions during the holiday season, and always know the location of the nearest veterinary hospital and a phone number for an animal poison control center in case of an emergency.”

Nationwide pet insurance members have exclusive access to the VetHelpline to speak with a live veterinary professional 24-hours a day.

“We receive an increase in calls relating to drug toxicity during the holidays,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT and director, veterinary services & senior veterinary toxicologist for the Pet Poison Helpline. “This spike in calls can generally be attributed to guests visiting the homes of pet owners and leaving their purses or backpacks open with easy access for pets to get into its contents, which may include medication.”

For more information and tips to prevent holiday pet hazards, visit: Top five pet holiday dangers.

About Nationwide pet insurance

With more than 700,000 insured pets, Nationwide is the first and largest pet health insurance provider 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 (2017); National Casualty Company (all other states), Columbus, OH, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2017). 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 U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, commercial, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; banking and mortgages; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, travel, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit

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