7 Pet Holiday Safety Tips for the Winter Season Keeping Your Cats and Dogs On the โ€œGood Listโ€

Kitten and Puppy in Miniature Sleigh

The winter holidays provide us with a much needed break from the otherwise unyielding bleakness of winter. However, sometimes we get a little too wrapped up in the festivities, forgetting that what might be fun for us can be upsetting, or potentially dangerous, for our four legged friends. Read up on our pet holiday safety tips and make sure your party goes purr-fectly.

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and the air is getting cooler. We all know what that means -- the holiday season is nearly upon us. While our winter holidays are viewed as a time for love and family, and not normally associated with hazards, these festivities can be fraught with peril for our four legged friends. Thankfully, navigating the choppy waters of pet holiday safety doesnโ€™t have to be complicated. Follow these holiday safety tips and youโ€™re sure to have nothing but fun and sugar plums dreams this season.

1. Give them an escape

For many pets, the stresses of the holidays stem mainly from the constant visitors. If your house is the one everyone flocks to for a holiday dinner, make sure your pets have a place where they can get away from the hustle and bustle.

One note: The coat room might not be the best place to leave them, as a pile of coats might make a pretty appealing place to sleep on (and shed all over).

2. Know your no-no foods

With the smell of delicious foods wafting through the air, your pets may plead for you to give them a taste, which is ok, but only so long as they are given a small portion of pet-safe foods along with their everyday dog or cat food. Most importantly make sure that anything you give them is free of:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Grapes & Raisins
  • Chocolate (and other candies)

A safe bet is to stick to some turkey, ham, or pumpkin to give your pet a taste of the holiday season. But absolutely no bones or alcohol!

3. Keep your lights out of reach

One of the most fun activities of the holiday season is lighting up your house, but with pets running around, you need to be careful where you hang the cords. Make sure any lights hung inside are safely out of reach, or taped down.

4. Exercise tree safety

If you are decorating a tree, make sure all the ornaments are not only hung with care, but secured to the point that not even the most clever cat could unfasten them. Using both rope and hooks tends to be effective. As for ornaments, while you may be tempted to use candy canes and gingerbread men to deck your tree, avoid it -- these snacks are not only a surefire way to tempt your pet onto the tree, but they are also no good for them to eat. Also, glass ornaments, while precious, are also just begging to be smashed on the floor and stepped on by your barefoot pal.

As for the tree itself, it is a good idea to not only put it in a secure base, but to have it tied to the wall or the ceiling, thereby reinforcing it against the almost certain attacks flung at it by curious pets. Also, since most of these attacks are launched from atop a cabinet or couch back, if you can isolate the tree in some way, it might help give it a leg up on your petโ€™s attempts.

Lastly, absolutely no tinsel! It might be glittery and pretty, but if your cat or dog eats it, they are going to need to be taken to the vet.

5. Donโ€™t play with fire

Many of these winter holidays place an emphasis on fire (looking at you, Hanukkah), and while the candles represent an important (if not central) part of the holiday, it only takes one curious cat or dog knocking over your menorah to reduce your eight nights of celebration into one miserable night of waiting on your front lawn for the fire department to arrive.

After you light the candles and say your bruchas, put the menorah somewhere it can be easily kept an eye on, and do so until the candles burn out (should be about 35 minutes, unless you are a maccabee). Same thing goes for Christmas candles.

6. Be the wrapping paper police

Everyone loves gifts -- wrapped up all nice with a big pretty bow. However, should your dog should scarf one down, or even worse, eat a ribbon, watch out -- just like with tinsel, you are going to be quickly on your way to the hospital.

A good solution to this problem is to think minimal when wrapping your gifts. If you can avoid ribbons, do so, as they are the most dangerous part for cats and dogs.

7. 'Tis the season for poisonous plants?

It is a mystery why this time of year has so many plants that can make your pets sick, but it does-- mistletoe, poinsettias, and holly are among the most poisonous plants for cats and dogs. The best solution for this? Donโ€™t have these plants around. Fake ones can be just as pretty (and reusable!).

If youโ€™re determined to have any of these plants, treat them the same way you would lit candles or a bowl of chocolate candies -- make sure they are out of reach, and in a place where you can keep an eye on them.

And if you follow these guidelines, you should be able to keep your pet, your decorations, and your slaved over meals safe this holiday season.

Keeping Your Pet Safe During The Holiday Season 

Perhaps the worst thing a pet owner can experience during the holiday season is an emergency vet visit. Unfortunately, thatโ€™s exactly where many will end up on a cold winterโ€™s night--and for a variety of reasons that could have been easily avoided in hindsight.

Hereโ€™s a look at the top reasons why a pet owner might find themselves at the vet this winterโ€ฆ.and how to avoid the trip all together so you can your pooch can stay safe and warm at home.

Tree Safety

Most every household will be putting up a tree during the holiday season. Itโ€™s a hallmark of the celebrations as the snow begins to fall and the weather turns cooler. However, whether real or fake, certain considerations need to be made to keep your dog safe.

First and foremost, be certain that your dog has their manners in place. In other words, if you have a teething puppy, youโ€™ll want to avoid leaving them alone around your tree because they might just turn it (or the presents underneath) into a chew toy.

Secondly, consider your ornaments carefully. Shatterproof plastic ornaments are affordable and often just as pretty as the real thing. You wouldnโ€™t know the difference unless you pick them up, or drop one. Thatโ€™s why theyโ€™re the safest bet around pets who may knock a glass or ceramic ornament off the treat by accident.

Third, be sure that you hang any sentimental decorations higher up on the tree. If youโ€™re stringing up popcorn or candy canes, you should also put them higher up and out of reach of your furry friendโ€™s strong sniffer. When in doubt, donโ€™t leave them out by themselves.

A final word of caution: While those scented sticks can definitely bring the smell of wintertime cheer into your home, they should be tucked high and deep in the tree, and out of reach of any dogs. If you have climbing cats, itโ€™s probably best to avoid them all together because they are packed with dangerous chemicals.


Who could deny the cuteness of a cat and dog dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus? From elf ears to hats to full-body sweaters, any costumes your pets happen to adorably adorn this year should not be left on them unattended.

Pets can be quick to turn these into chew toys, and ravling yarn, plastic parts, and decorations can be dangerous. If your pet struggles to pull off an accessory, that can also turn into a strangulation hazard and it most certainly wonโ€™t help your pet get into the spirit of the holidays.

Instead, try to forego the costumes except during carefully attended photo ops and family gatherings. For your petโ€™s safety and comfort, be sure to take any of their accessories or holiday outfits off before they go to bed or get left alone.

Table Scraps

This time of year is known for social gatherings and family events that get everyone together around the table. But, while you may want your pet to feel involved, itโ€™s not always safe to be passing table scraps down to them.

In fact, you should try to avoid feeding your pets human food. Not only does it disrupt their carefully balanced diet, it can also turn them into permanent beggars--and thatโ€™s a hard habit to untrain.

If your pet is already one that likes to hang around the table, be certain to politely request that guests donโ€™t feed them any food scraps or leftovers. If you have a pushover in your house, it may be best to put your pet into another room while everyone enjoys the feast.

The main reason for this is pet safety. Many things that are found in human food, even in small quantities, are surprisingly unhealthy or even dangerous for cats and dogs. Make sure to look things up before letting your pet have a taste and, even better, try to avoid feeding them human food all together.

Gifts for Your Pet

Who doesnโ€™t love the thought of giving their pet their very own present during the holiday season? After all, everyone else is in on the fun! However, youโ€™ll want to be certain that any pet presents youโ€™re picking up are truly safe for them.

This goes back to general toy and treat safety. Be certain that any toy you are purchasing for your pet has been designed with their safety in mind. That means no plastic parts or accessories that they can get ahold of and potentially swallow or consume.

When it comes to treats, you should stick to the pet aisle where the ingredients have been carefully chosen based on whatโ€™s safe for your animal to eat. If you find that your pet is a picky eater, you can even make your own treats for some extra-special goodness.

Think Twice Before Making a Pet a Present

During the holiday season, the adoption rate of dogs and cats goes through the roof!

While itโ€™s great to think of all the pets who are finding new and happy homes with families, this is always a great time of year to remind readers that pets arenโ€™t a last-minute gift.

In order to truly give the pet, and your family, the best present, be sure to do your research and make sure that everyone knows the responsibilities involved with the care and keeping of the animal.

Itโ€™s also a great thing for everyone to tag along and help pick out the new pet so that everyone is able to bond and connect with them. So rather than putting a bow on a brand new puppy or kitten, if youโ€™d like to welcome a new pet home this year, announce a trip to the local shelter to pick one out.

Happy Holidays!

More on Pets During the Holidays

Pet Safety for the Holiday Infographic
5 Dog Christmas Outfits for the Howl-iday Season
Cat Christmas Trees to Distract Your Cat from the Big Tree

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