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Holiday Pet Safety: 6 Dangers to Avoid

Alaina Brandenburger
June 8, 2017

Keep your four-legged friends healthy and safe this holiday season.



The holiday season is a great time to bond with your pets. But decorations, presents and loud parties can often be more harmful than merry. Give your pet a safe and happy holiday with these tips from Claudia Kawczynska, editor-in-chief at The Bark magazine, and Camille DeClementi, V.M.D. and director of medical records at the ASPCA.

  1. Decorations 
    Holiday adornments like tinsel and ribbons might make your home sparkle, but they can also be toxic for animals. DeClementi recommends skipping these decorations altogether, as they can be very dangerous for pets and lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. Even pine needles from a tree can make your pet sick. If you suspect your pet has ingested something, call your vet immediately.

  2. Costumes
    While you may think putting antlers on your pet is cute and hilarious, the pet might not feel the same. According to Kawczynska, "Be careful about going overboard or forcing a dog to wear something they don't want to, some dogs don't like that kind of attention and feel embarrassed by it, while others thrive on that kind of attention." If your poodle Fluffy is uncomfortable, it could make her agitated and more prone to behavior such as biting.

    Read more about safety guidelines for pet costumes.

  3. Parties
    Some pets are social butterflies and don't mind being the life of the pet party. Others aren't comfortable with all of the commotion. DeClementi recommends pre-planning your pet's location during big gatherings. "Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to -- complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle"

    Rowdy guests shouldn't try to coax your nervous pet out. Be sure that the room your pet is in is not the same one that the guests are storing their purses or coats. Your pets could get curious and get into dangerous medications or objects that guests keep in their pockets.

  4. Food
    Everyone likes chocolate cake, but that doesn't mean you should give it to your dog. Chocolate is toxic to animals and can even be fatal. Stick with treats that were made with animals in mind.

    Learn more about holiday food safety for pets.

  5. Gifts
    "Presents that are enclosed in hard plastic 'shells' can be dangerous, and make sure to remove all tags and plastic from all toys -- especially the soft ones," Kawczynska advises. Check gifts that other people give your pets, too! And when in doubt, stick with the pet store when buying things for Fido.

  6. Everyday Hazards
    If you wouldn't leave your child alone in a room with an object, it's best not to leave your pet alone, either. You should either remove these items or arrange for a pet sitter to keep your pet company and make sure they stay out of trouble. Here are some potentially dangerous items you should watch out for -- especially during the holidays:

    • Wires
    • Batteries
    • Glass or plastic ornaments
    • Candles
    • Alcoholic Drinks
    • Ribbon
    • Plants (like poinsettias, holly and mistletoe) can be toxic

All the festivities can make the holidays a crazy time, but don't forget to slow down and pay attention to your pet amid all the chaos. A little love and attention to these details will ensure a happy season is had by all.

Alaina Brandenburger is a freelance writer in Denver. Her work can be found here.

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