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  • Writer's picturelarawalker

Holiday Season Pet Safety Tips

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

Please keep these tips in mind as you and your family celebrate (share with family and friends who have pets). The winter holidays can be fun for the whole family, but can be a dangerous time for your pets, dogs and cats alike.  While this year's holiday celebrations may not be as busy or elaborate as usual due to COVID, following are tips to protect your pets and avoid a visit to the vet or worse.


  1. Guests can easily leave a door open.  Whether you’re hosting guests or traveling, make sure your pets are wearing a collar and ID tags with current information in case they get loose.  

  2. Make sure you remind your guests to be careful with doors and not let pets out.  

  3. If your pets are dashers, keep them on a leash or in another room while guests are coming in and out.


  1. A full house can stress pets out.  Make sure they have a safe and quiet space to get away.

  2. Keep toys and treats at hand when hosting guests to distract pets and reward good behavior.

  3. Supervise ALL interactions between pets and children, for everyone’s safety.  This is especially important if your dog is a resource guarder and gets food aggressive, do not let children feed your dog or go near your dog when he is eating.  Never let a child reach for the dog’s food bowl or mouth when food is present.


  1. Rich foods can cause stomach upset or worse, pancreatitis.  If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas dinner, remind guests not to feed your pets table scraps.  Keep authorized treats at hand instead and control what your pets eat.  Family and friends often think it’s cute to sneak food scraps to pets; to protect your pets, it’s best to make sure you’re the one controlling what they’re eating.

  2. Don’t leave your pets unattended with any food.

  3. Don’t leave alcoholic drinks or open alcoholic containers within pets’ reach.

  4. The following Thanksgiving and end of year holiday foods are DANGEROUS for your pets

    • Turkey/chicken bones

    • Corn on the cob

    • Onions

    • Garlic

    • Mushrooms

    • Raisins, grapes

    • Sage and other herbs – Contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression if eaten in large quantities.

    • Fat trimmings & fatty foods

    • Bread dough – An animal’s body heat can cause raw dough to rise in his stomach.  As it expands, the pet may experience severe vomiting, abdominal pain, or bloating.

    • Chocolate

    • Alcohol

    • Anything with Xylitol

If you feel strongly about treating your pets to a taste of the holiday meal, please make sure you stick to small bites of lean poultry or unsalted/unbuttered vegetables.


Do not leave pets with unattended trash that they can reach.  Make sure you take out the trash if it’s in a can that can be tipped over.  Pets will be tempted to tip it over to reach leftovers or food scraps.   HOLIDAY DECORATIONS Many people put up holiday decorations before Thanksgiving, including Christmas trees, candles, etc.  Please keep the following in mind:

  • Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet.

  • Keep your pet from reaching the Christmas tree water which may contain fertilizers.  Stagnant tree water is also a breeding ground for bacteria and could cause nausea or diarrhea.

  • Avoid Mistletoe, Holly, & Lilies: Holly, when ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems.  Lilies are a common floral choice for the holidays but many varieties of lilies are toxic to both dogs and cats and can cause kidney failure and even death, including the peace lily.  Avoid the calla lily, amaryllis, lily of the valley, autumn crocus and the common houseplant, giant Dracaena or palm lily.

  • Avoid Tinsel: Kitties love a sparkly, light-catching "toy" that's easy to bat around and carry in their mouths.  But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery.

  • Do not leave lighted candles unattended.  Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over.  Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface.  Keep candles off the floor and up high where dog tails won’t knock them over.  And if you leave the room, blow out all the candles!

  • Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach.  A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth and digestive tract.

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