Holiday Pet Safety Tips

Holiday Pet Safety Tips

Thursday, 24 October 2019 18:19

The holidays involve a lot of family, a lot of decorations, and a lot of extra stuff. They're an amazing respite for all of those reasons. Juggling so many new things means it becomes easy to overlook what your pet's getting up to. Family coming in and out can mean a dog getting outside, decoration can mean a cat eating tinsel, and all those extra toys can be a hazard to animals looking for something to chew on. Luckily it only takes a few good habits to avoid a potentially heartbreaking holiday emergency.


Use pet gates: Pets can be surprisingly clever when it comes to chewing on something you don't want them to. Even well-behaved pets will get excited at all the new chewables that the holidays bring, from dangerous desserts to lights and ornaments. If you can't keep an eye on a pet that needs it, it's OK to gate off a room with too many temptations.

Anchor your tree: A Christmas tree has a number of potential dangers. Big dogs may not realize that running past the tree will knock it over. After all, every tree they've seen before is immune to this. Anchor the tree or limit their access to it.

Real tree dangers: A natural Christmas tree will often sit in a base that contains fertilizer and water. Don't let your pets eat or drink from this. It can upset their stomachs and make them sick.

Tinsel & Confetti Risks: Cats especially love tinsel. Even if all they do is gnaw on it, it's still very possible for them to accidentally swallow some. Tinsel can obstruct their digestive tract, causing dehydration, sickness, and possibly require risky surgery. If you can't limit your cat's access to your tree, choose something other than tinsel. The same goes for confetti at New Years. Both tinsel and confetti can pose a very real and painful danger to a cat's life.

Ornament or Chew Toy? It's rare, but some dogs see ornaments and get to chewing. We've even seen a few chomp down on a glass ornament. Not only does this risk precious heirlooms, but any ornament can break into pieces. If ingested, this causes stomach upset and risks a dangerous digestive block. Limit their access to the tree and place ornaments higher up to avoid this.

Electricity: Similarly, some pets will chew on electric decorations. Keep an eye out for this. All this chewing action is more likely in pets that regularly need to be chewing on something, but just like us the holidays and how they change up our schedules can bring out a lot of excitement and energy out in pets. This energy can often be misplaced into extra misbehavior even in well-behaved pets without an everyday chewing habit.


No sweets for pets: Avoid giving candy to animals, and make sure any children in your house know this. Chocolate is very dangerous for most animals to ingest. Anything that's sweetened using xylitol is also dangerous. Make sure they can't steal any baked goods or candy even when you're not looking. Halloween is an especially risky time for this, so make sure everyone stows their sweets where pets can't get them.

No alcohol for pets: A lot of holiday parties involve alcohol. Make sure you don't leave your drinks where pets can get to them. They don't have the tolerance we do and weigh much less than we do, to begin with. Alcohol in many pets is an extreme danger and can cause respiratory failure.

Watch the food scraps: Keep anything with a lot of fat or bones away from your pets. It's tempting to give them leftovers, and there's nothing wrong with this. Just trim the fat off, don't give them anything with bones in it, and skip handing them anything spicy.

Other Issues

Medication risks: A purse with medication in it can easily turn into an emergency trip to the vet. Give your guests a safe place to put their belongings where your pets can't get to them or keep your pets in another room entirely from the party.

Open doors: If many people are going in and out and you have an amateur escape artist, keep this in mind. Give your pet their own room they can't escape. It's often hard to track whether an animal has escaped, and some guests might think it's cute when your dog runs out the door instead of grabbing and stopping them.

Shy pets & crowds: Many pets have issues with large crowds or people they don't know. This can be due to past trauma, or can just be a part of their personality. If they don't like to be in large crowds or say hi to everyone, don't force it. Give them their own quiet space to relax. Make sure you don't overlook food, water, and bathroom needs – these are easily forgotten when you're having fun at a party, but pets' needs still need to be cared for.

Firework fright: New Year's Eve is a popular time for fireworks outside. If you have pets that react to fireworks, give them a space to feel safe and secure. Many dogs especially will react. They'll often want to be somewhere they know is safe or sheltered – under a table, in their crate, or with you. If you know they react really badly, consult your vet. There may be an appropriate way to ease their stress a bit. Contact Avery Creek Pet Hospital for more information.