Saint Patrick’s Day Safety and Health


In March, many pet owners celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with food, parties, props, and alcohol. Some festivities can present potential dangers to dogs and cats. Nothing can ruin a celebration quite like a sick pet, so here are some common hazards associated with this holiday and some safety tips to avoid your furry family member becoming green in the face (or worse!).


Alcoholic drinks, especially beer, can be attractive to pets. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control center receives an increase in calls every Saint Patrick’s Day from concerned pet owners whose dog or cat has consumed an unattended alcoholic drink. It doesn’t take much for alcohol to impact the health of a small or large animal. Within 30 minutes, they can suffer intoxication effects like loss of bodily control and coordination, difficulty walking, stomach upset, depression, a drop in body temperature, fast heart rate, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma, or seizure. Pets who have ingested large amounts of alcohol can suffer a decreased gag reflex and are in danger of aspiration pneumonia if they breathe vomit into their lungs. 

What to do:

Always keep alcoholic beverages away and out of reach of your pets. Do not place drinks on the floor or on low tabletops that may be easily reached by curious dogs or cats.  If you cannot supervise your pet or are concerned that they may gain access to a harmful substance, it’s best to put them in a quiet, safe room or comfortable crate until the festivities are over.

If you suspect your pet has ingested alcohol, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center operates a hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-426-4435.


Shamrock plants are often given as gifts in early spring to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day.  These plants come in two different colors: The green shamrock is Oxalis acetosellar and the purple shamrock is Oxalis triangularis. Shamrocks are not appropriate for pets and contain oxalates. Oxalates are irritating micro-crystals that if eaten, can cause mouth pain and swelling, salivation, stomach upset, panting, vomiting, and head shaking. If large amounts are ingested, there can be more severe concerns like seizure, kidney damage or kidney failure. 

What to do:

Avoid toxic plants like shamrocks and opt for other pet-safe alternatives when possible.  If you are given a shamrock as a gift, take care to place it on a high surface where pets won’t easily access it. Cats can often reach plants that dogs cannot, so it is important to pay special attention to placement. Tall stands and hanging baskets away from ledges are good choices. Keep information tags on plants in the event that a cat or dog finds a way to reach it and you need to provide information to your veterinarian.  Always supervise your pets and watch for signs of illness if you have plants of any kind in your home. The ASPCA has an extensive list of both toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs, cats and horses that can be found by clicking here. 

If you suspect your pet has ingested a poisonous plant, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center operates a hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-426-4435.

Plastic Beads and Trinkets

It’s not unusual to get in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day by wearing or gifting party favors like strings of beads or gold coins. Plastic beads or other trinkets are harmless enough to humans but pose a different risk to pets if they are discarded where your pets can find them. Plastic is very harmful when swallowed. In dogs and cats, it can lead to choking, gagging, vomiting, or obstructions of the digestive tract which may require surgery to remove.  Strings of beads pose a problem to cats who may entangle themselves during play. Dogs are at similar risks. 

What to do:

Supervise animals around decorations and plastic props.  Never leave your pet unattended with an unsafe item that may become a strangulation hazard, eaten or chewed on. Avoid using party trinkets as pet toys, and instead offer your pet something more appropriate that is designed for safe pet play.

Loud Noises, Fireworks, and Busy Settings

Parades, fireworks and other loud noises often happening around holidays like St. Patrick’s Day can make some pets feel nervous and act out of character. Many pets will escape from homes, yards, and leashes if they are startled by loud unfamiliar sounds. Some fearful animals can become aggressive if they feel uncertain or threatened and may cause damage to objects, property, other animals, people, and themselves.

What to do: 

Pets often need space away from noisy commotion. It is a good idea to bring pets indoors if you anticipate fireworks to avoid having them run away from home. If any celebration is too much for your pet, you can use a crate to confine them to a quiet room. Pets that suffer from excessive noise-induced anxiety may benefit from a partially covered crate to create an atmosphere similar to a den- just be careful that nothing harmful can be pulled into the crate and cause a problem. Soft lighting and gentle tones from music or calm voices can also be soothing to some animals. Feedback from weighted vests designed for dogs can be reassuring, and calming pheromones for cats may also be available through your vet. Pay attention to your furry friend and watch for signs of anxiety or distress. If you know that your pet may have trouble with noisy or chaotic celebrations, plan ahead to avoid stressful situations where you are able.  

If you take care to remember some of these common hazards and follow these helpful tips, you can ensure you and your furry loved ones are safe, healthy, and happy this Saint Patrick’s Day. Your friends at the Lexington Humane Society are wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday!

*Information for these tips was gathered from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), the Humane Society of the United States, and PetMD.

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