The holidays can be a wonderful and exciting time of year when our homes fill with family members and friends, tasty foods, interesting gifts and festive decorations but it is also an important time to stop and give some special attention to how we can keep our pets safe. By protecting your dog from certain potentially dangerous holiday-time risks you can fully enjoy the festivities with your pets and loved ones worry-free.


One of the most festive parts of the holiday season is the variety of cozy decorations that we bring in to brighten up our homes. Decorations can be dangerous to our pets posing a tempting choking hazard or a possible risk of electrical shock. Make sure that your Christmas tree is well secured and won’t be easily knocked over if your pet chooses to climb on it. Keep an eye on your dog around the tree to ensure they aren’t interested in eating the evergreen needles or drinking the tree’s water which can be harmful if swallowed. Keep ornaments and decorations out of reach and don’t decorate the bottom of your Christmas tree where your pets will be able to get a hold of anything hanging. You can also put up a barrier around the tree, like mini-fencing.
When using extension cords for your decorations, be careful not to leave them somewhere your pet might be tempted to chew and inspect them closely, discarding any cords that are at all damaged. Your pet may also be tempted to chew on strings of lights or other cords for decorations so make sure to unplug these when you aren’t around. Never leave candles or fires unattended or left alone with your pets and be very careful not to arrange candles on low tables where a doggy tail might reach.

The Dangers of Gift Wrapping

Gift wrapping poses its own threat to dogs who get excited by shiny and crinkly things and who might enjoy exploring what it’s like to ingest them. Our favorite tinsel and curling ribbons can be dangerous to a dog’s stomach if eaten so be careful when using them this holiday season and dispose of them immediately as you never want to leave any lying around the house. Once your gifts are opened don’t leave small toys or batteries lying around and available for your pets to chew on. If a piece of ribbon suspiciously goes missing or you suspect your pet might have ingested something potentially dangerous consult your family vet immediately.

Decorative holiday plants

There are many special ornamental seasonal plants that we bring into our homes this time of year that could pose a threat to pets. Many of the typical holiday plants are toxic to dogs so do some research before bringing anything into the house. If you are going to have plants that you aren’t sure are safe to have around pets, just keep them in a safe place, out of reach or in an inaccessible part of your house where your dog does not have access to them. Amaryllis, holly and mistletoe are a few of the many holiday plants that pose a toxicity risk.

Holiday Foods

Just like us our pets are interested in all the festive treats that fill our houses this time of year so it is important to be careful to keep certain foods and treats well out of reach.

Most holiday foods in general should be kept away from your pets but pay special attention to desserts and anything in the kitchen that might cause a choking hazard. Chocolates – especially the darker varieties can be toxic to dogs so make sure to keep these away from your pets. Never give your dogs cooked chicken bones as they can easily splinter and give your pet serious internal issues. Be extra careful to take the trash out as pets can easily get into it and be endangered by what they find there, especially when disposing of bones.

If you are having a party be mindful of where your guests could potentially leave food that your dog might be able to get. Consider keeping your dog separate from the party festivities. If your dog gets into a potentially harmful food don’t hesitate to call your Vet.

Hosting Parties

If you are going to be hosting parties or receiving many visitors to your home this time of year your dog might feel some added stress. Make sure your dog has access to a private and quiet room or place they can go to escape the chaos of a party. If you know that your dog is especially nervous around visitors, you should consider putting a crate in a quiet room with some toys and snacks.
This can be an easy time for dogs to slip out the door unnoticed as many visitors are coming and going. It is always a good idea to keep a collar with a tag on your dog and even microchip just in case they should slip out.

Other Hazards

Other cold weather-related hazards to your pets are the chemicals used during the winter months like rock salt and antifreeze that contains ethylene. These can irritate a pet’s paws and become ingested when they lick themselves causing internal irritations so be careful of what you are using that your pet may become exposed to.

Enjoy a Safe and Fun Holiday Season

Just the simple increase in activity around your home during the holiday season can be stressful to your dog. The number of guests coming and going, new sights and smells within the house from decorations, meals and gifts and a change in the normal household routines can all cause extra anxiety for our beloved pets. Do your best to provide your dog with a safe and quiet space this time of year, limit their access to harmful decorations, foods or plants and you will be sure to have a cheerful holiday season free from pet emergencies.